The brother of the New Jersey man who was killed along with his four daughters in a multi-car crash on Friday says that “they were the most special family” and were beloved by everyone who knew them.
The sole survivor of the crash, mother Mary Rose Trinidad, is recovering in the hospital and is in stable condition.
Audie Trinidad, 61, and their daughters — Kaitlyn, 20, Danna, 17, and 13-year-old twins Allison and Melissa —were killed on a Delaware highway in their minivan when a pickup truck going the opposite direction crossed over the median and slammed into their vehicle, ABC News 7 reported.
Audie’s brother, Daniel Trinidad, tells PEOPLE that he saw Mary Rose on Monday morning before she went into another surgery for her right shoulder.
“She wasn’t on medicine then so she wasn’t groggy and was able to cry,” says Daniel, 59. “She said it was finally sinking in that they’re gone forever. She said, ‘Now I’m by myself’ and I said, ‘You’re not alone. We’re here.’ It’s going to be painful for her, emotionally and physically. We will give her a lot of love.”
It took this tragedy, says Daniel, for him to realize how much the family’s community valued his brother and nieces.
“I live in Miami and when I came here everyone on the street said Audie was the sweetest and nicest neighbor,” he says, 59. “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.”
He added: “It’s so heartwarming. My brother was so well loved.”
Just hours before the crash, Audie sent his brother pictures of the crabs they were eating for lunch before heading back home to Teaneck, New Jersey.
“That was the last time we texted,” says Daniel, who visited the family once a year. “But we spoke on Father’s Day.”
The family is waiting for Mary Rose to heal so that she can be present for the viewing and funerals.
“We’re in no rush,” says Daniel. “It won’t be that soon.”
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 family of six was driving 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,” read a statement shared on the Delaware State Police website by public information officer Melissa Jaffe.
“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.
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. His wife was transported to a local area hospital where she was admitted with serious injuries.
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