New Jersey Mom Who Survived Car Crash That Killed Husband and Daughters Learns Family’s Fate

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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We Survived Waco: Witnesses Relive the Cult’s Deadly Clash With Law Enforcement 25 Years Later

Twenty-five years later, Clive Doyle has not forgotten the heat of the fire that consumed the Mount Carmel Center outside Waco Texas, on April 19, 1993 — leaving behind the bodies of 75 members of the Branch Davidian religious group.

Among the dead were 25 children and the group’s leader, David Koresh, a self-proclaimed prophet who shot himself as his home burned.

“The skin was all peeling off my hands,” Doyle, 77, recalls of the blaze that investigators said Davidians themselves set in the compound that April day. “My jacket was smoking and melting.”

The deadly inferno ended a 51-day siege of the Davidians by federal agents after a raid by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that February triggered a ferocious gun battle. Four ATF agents and six followers of the 33-year-old Koresh were killed in the shootout.

Decades later, the horror at Waco has left an indelible mark on both the Branch Davidian survivors and the law enforcement agents who were there.

“It’s not like I haven’t lived this every day of my life since then,” former FBI negotiator Byron Sage tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

“I don’t think we ever had the slightest control over how this thing was going to end,” Sage says. “It was all David.”

• For more on the Waco tragedy and how a new ministry is rising in the same spot, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.

The standoff between authorities and the cult was complicated by its scale and by the zealotry of the Davidians, Sage says:

“We had over 120 people who were heavily armed and fortified and had been indoctrinated or brainwashed into this self-fulfilling prophesy that they were the chosen of the Lamb of God — which is what David called himself — and that they were the elect that would initiate the battle of Armageddon. The only true hostages were the children.”

What would become one of the deadliest clashes between law enforcement and citizens in American history began on Feb. 28, 1993, when ATF agents raided the Branch Davidian’s compound when reports surfaced that Koresh had been sexually abusing minors and stockpiling weapons. A fierce gunfight between agents and Koresh’s armed followers ensued.

“They were going to protect themselves. They were going to protect their property,” David Thibodeau, a Waco survivor and author of  A Place Called Waco, tells PEOPLE. “That’s just an American thing.”

Larry Lynch, then a lieutenant at the McLennan County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office, says he spoke to Koresh soon after that shooting.

“I said, ‘I know you have wounded,’ and wanted to talk about theology and I said, ‘No, let’s get the wounded out.’ But he wasn’t too interested in that,” Lynch remembers. “It was one way — it was his way. He thought he could control the situation and everyone would go away.”

Gary Noesner,  the FBI’s negotiation coordinator for the first half of the weeks-long stalemate, says authorities realized early on that “we couldn’t make a deal with anyone other than Koresh, so if Koresh was sleeping nothing got accomplished.

“He wouldn’t talk to us for days,” says Noesner, who is the author of Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator.

He says that while he was in charge, he was able to secure the release of 35 Davidians — but none of them were Koresh’s children. For Koresh to leave, says Noesner, he would have “had to give up his kingdom and control over his followers. At the end of the day he had to give up too much and some of the actions made it easier to resist the opportunity to come out.”

Throughout the siege, FBI negotiators tried different strategies to get the group to leave Mount Carmel, including trying to convince Koresh’s right-hand man, Steve Schneider, whose wife had a child with Koresh, to turn against him. But it didn’t work.

“He was educated,” says Sage of Schneider. “He was articulate, but he didn’t have an independence of thought or the ability to do anything without the blessing of David.”

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

As the impasse dragged on and the negotiations with Koresh waned, tanks moved in and rammed the compound. Military gas was also used in an attempt to flush the Davidians out of the building.

Some time after that, the compound went up in flames — a fire that was exactly what Koresh had prophesized.

“He preached that forces of evil were coming to get them and they would all be killed in a fiery ending and come back as the chosen, and our actions sort of validated his prophecy among his followers,” Noesner says now.

Doyle, the Davidian who was one of nine survivors at the compound, lost his daughter in the fire. He says he narrowly escaped through a whole in the wall.

Koresh along with Schneider and dozens more perished.

Though a congressional investigation later concluded the fire was intentionally started by the Branch Davidians, Koresh’s followers have denied they were responsible, instead pointing to federal agents.

“At the end of the day,” Noesner says, “The branch weren’t big evil people and neither is the government. This was a complex tragedy and there were a lot of mistakes on both sides.”

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