TRAGEDY STRUCK this once happy and well loved Filipino American family as the vehicle they were riding in was hit by another vehicle in Delaware on their way home to New Jersey from a vacation with relatives in Florida. Only the mother, Mary Rose, who was a nurse, survived, as husband Audie Trinidad, 61, a US postal worker; and four daughters — Kaitlyn, 20, Danna, 17, and 13-year-old twins Allison and Melissa – all died on the spot. The FilAm community mourned their death and launched a fund drive to assist. (Go Fund Me)
Mother, a nurse in New Jersey, survives; family was ‘well loved’
NEW YORK/PASAY CITY – Tragedy struck a once happy and well loved Filipino American family when the vehicle they were riding in was hit by another vehicle in a highway in Delaware while the family was on the way home to New Jersey from a vacation with relatives in Ocean City, Maryland.
The crash snuffed the lives of Audie M. Trinidad, 61, a US postal worker who was driving the vehicle, and his daughters Kaitlyn, 20; Danna, 17; and 14-year-old twins Melissa and Allison. Audie’s wife, Mary Rose Ballocanag Trinidad, 53, a nurse, sustained serious injuries during the mishap and miraculously doctors in the hospital where she was rushed said she is expected to survive.
The fatal accident jolted the Filipino American community, especially in New Jersey, where the Trinidads were known to be well loved, and immediately mobilized for a fund drive to raise assistance for the family.
In Pasay City, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) joined the Filipino community in mourning the deaths of five members of a Filipino-American family in a highway mishap in Delaware.
“We join our kababayan in the United States in mourning the loss of five members of a Filipino-American family in a highway tragedy near Townsend, Delaware,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement which was also released in US by the Philippine Consulate General in New York.
“Our hearts go out to the loved ones in the United States and in the Philippines they left behind,” Cayetano said. “We shall include the Trinidad family in our prayers.”
Consul General Claro Cristobal said the family was returning to their home in Teaneck, New Jersey from Ocean City, Maryland when the accident happened.
Consul General Cristobal said the victims were headed north on Highway Route 1 near Townsend, Delaware, when a pickup truck traveling the opposite direction crossed the median and collided with their minivan.
The Consulate General earlier extended its sympathies and Deputy Consul General Kerwin Orville Tate went to the hospital, where Mrs. Trinidad was rushed and presently confined, to see what assistance could be extended to the family.
“The Philippine Consulate General in New York wished to express its deepest condolences to the bereaved Trinidad family and joins the Filipino community in mourning the tragic loss of exemplary members of the community,” the Consulate General said in a statement.
A devastated Daniel Trinidad, Audie’s brother, flew to New Jersey where his relatives’ bodies were taken and lie in state.
“I’m trying to keep it together. We don’t know how we will cope once reality sets in. They’re all gone, gone,” Daniel told local television and media.
“They’re a God fearing family. They go to church. My brother texted me a picture of the blue crabs they ate on 4th of July. They’re all gone in the blink of an eye,” Daniel continued, adding that “Their bodies in the morgue are unrecognizable.”
In another report, Daniel was quoted as saying: “I live in Miami and when I came here everyone on the street said Audie was the sweetest and nicest neighbour.”
“This is his legacy. He was full of love and compassion. Classmates came over to pay their respects and were just sobbing. They said that the girls could never say no to someone who needed help. They didn’t know the definition of no,” Daniel continued.
He added: “It’s so heartwarming. My brother was so well loved.”
Mary Rose was rushed to the Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware where she was pronounced with serious injuries. Latest reports indicated that she is currently alert and in stable condition.
Public information officer Melissa Jafee of the Delaware State Police shared a statement on their website on details of the car crash.
The statement showed that according to an initial investigation, the incident took place on Friday “at approximately 3:47 p.m.,” and involved three cars: a 2007 Ford F-350 — which was traveling southbound — a 2002 Mercury Sable, and a 1998 Toyota Sienna, which were both traveling northbound. The Filipino family of six was in the 1998 Toyota Sienna.
“For unknown reasons, the F-350 failed to remain in the southbound lanes of travel and exited the roadway, crossing over the grassy median and into the northbound lanes of travel,”Jaffe said.
“The front driver’s side of the F-350 struck the left rear side of the Sable, causing the Sable to spin out of control and come to a rest in an embankment. The F-350 continued out of control southbound in the northbound lanes, when the front of the Sienna struck the passengers side of the F-350. The impact caused both vehicles to be displaced off the edge of the roadway and into a ditch,” Jaffe added.
The operator of the F-350, a 44-year-old male from East New Market, Maryland, was taken to a local hospital, where he was later released with non-life threatening injuries, said Jaffe. Authorities have yet to determine “if impairment” was a factor regarding his involvement with the crash.
Additionally, the passenger riding in the same car as well as the operator of the Sable, a 24-year-old male from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, were also taken to a local hospital and released with non-life threatening injuries, Jaffe explained.
While Audie and “his 53-year-old wife” were properly restrained at the time of the crash, their four daughters were not, said Jaffe.
Audie and his daughters were pronounced dead at the scene, said Jaffe.