Family of Bronx Zoo crash victims devastated over tragedy
Family members of the seven people who died tragically Sunday when their SUV flew off the Bronx River Parkway and landed upside down in the Bronx Zoo were still shocked by their deaths Monday and searching for a way to mend their broken hearts.
Oscar Morel, 14, a cousin to three young girls who were killed in the accident, said the family's apartment on Taylor Avenue in the Bronx was crammed with up to 25 people Monday.
Most were in tears, he said, "trying to make sense of what happened."
"It's just unbelievable," he said. "We're all crying, trying to make each other feel better."
Killed in the crash were driver Maria Nunez Gonzalez, 45, and her daughter, Jazlyn, 10; her sister, Maria Nunez Rosario, 39, and her two daughters, Naily, 7, and Marlyn, 3, and her parents, Jacobo Nunez, 85, and Ana Julia Martinez, 81.
Juan Gonzalez, the husband of Nunez Gonzalez, was inconsolable.
"I just lost the love of my life," he said.
In Jazlyn's bedroom, six women sobbed. Sitting on a neatly made bed, with stuffed puppies on a nearby shelf, a woman moaned: "Oh, ay mi mama, ay mi papa, ay Dios mio."
A police investigation concluded that the SUV was traveling 68 mph when it crashed into the highway median, damaging a tire and sending the vehicle skidding sideways across the roadway. It then went airborne over a 4-foot metal fence, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
Oil was also found on the top of the fence, indicating the vehicle cleared it before flipping over as it plummeted 60 feet into a secluded area of the Bronx Zoo, Browne said.
It is still unclear what caused the crash, and investigators haven't ruled out mechanical failure, Browne added.
Rita Nunez, 38, a cousin to Nunez Rosario, said the grief was "too much," spreading across extended family split between the Bronx and the Dominican Republic.
"Everyone was so excited to be together as a family," she said Sunday. "It was supposed to be a celebration. Instead, we are planning funerals."
Maria Nunez's son, Jonel, 18, was supposed to have gone with his mom and sister, Jocelyn, ion the SUV to pick up relatives for a Sunday gathering, said cousin Rita Nunez.
But his mom told him to stay home because she thought that they would only be gone 10 minutes.
"He's alive because he didn't go," Nunez said. "She told him, 'Stay, we'll be back soon ... and hat was the last thing she said to her son."