Teaneck, NJ – A father and his four daughters were killed when a heavy-duty pickup truck struck their minivan as they drove back from a family vacation in Ocean City, Maryland.
His wife, and the mother of all four girls, was the only one to survive the crash.
Audie Trinidad, 61, was driving the family in their 1999 Toyota Sienna minivan on Route 1 in Delaware at about 3:45 p.m. on July 6 when a Ford F-350 truck driven by 44-year-old Alvin Hubbard of Maryland collided with the family’s minivan, CBS News reported.
An off-duty firefighter who witnessed the crash said that the pickup truck crossed the median and hit one car, and then plowed into the minivan.
Larry DuHadaway said the accident was the worst he had seen in his 28 years as a firefighter, according to NorthJersey.com.
DuHadaway said he was about four vehicles behind the Ford F-350 truck when he saw it start to veer into the left lane.
Then the pickup truck swerved onto the left shoulder and hit the rumble strips before moving back into the middle of the lane, he said.
That’s when the Ford F-350 truck crossed over the median and across the grassy strip that separated northbound and southbound traffic, DuHadaway told NorthJersey.com.
DuHadaway said the minivan carrying Trinidad’s family struck the pickup truck broadside, and flipped over it on impact.
“There were many, many, many bystanders and people that stopped to help,” DuHadaway said, according to NorthJersey.com. “But I’m a paramedic as well and I’m the only first responder there. I felt kind of helpless, to be honest.”
Police said Audie Trinidad and his 53-year-old wife Mary Rose Ballocanag were both wearing seatbelts, NorthJersey.com reported.
Their four daughters – 20-year-old Kaitlyn, 17-year-old Danna, and 13-year-old twins Melissa and Allison – were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash, according to NorthJersey.com.
Ballocanag was in the passenger seat and survived. She was in serious condition at a Delaware hospital recovering from surgery for broken ribs, arms and legs, NorthJersey.com reported.
"Auntie, I'm alone," Ballocanag told her aunt in her first conversation since the accident, according to the New York Post.
Trinidad and Ballocanag both moved from the Philippines to America 30 years ago.
He went into the U.S. Navy and served for seven years before taking a job as a postal worker. Ballocanag is a nurse at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York.
"How do you bury five people at the same time?" asked Trinidad’s brother, Danny Trinidad. "This is like a tragedy a hundred times over."
Church representatives visited Ballocanag in the hospital in Delaware on Sunday to assist her with the difficult task of arranging the funeral services and five burials for her husband and children, CBS News reported.
Neighbors have left flowers on the lawn of the family’s home to honor the community’s loss.
The pickup truck’s driver and his 30-year-old male passenger were treated at the hospital for minor injuries and released, according to the New York Post.
No charges had been filed by police against Hubbard as of Sunday.
The driver of the car Hubbard hit was a 24-year-old Pennsylvania man.
He was treated at the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, and released, CBS news reported.
The accident caused a 17-mile backup as many bystanders stopped to help, according to NorthJersey.com.
There was a candlelight vigil for the family, arranged by their church, on Saturday night at Milton Votee Park in Teaneck.
A GoFundMe page set up for the Trinidad family had raised more than $200,000 on Monday.