Updated 05/03/2012 11:32 PM
Hundreds Attend Bronx Wake For Seven SUV Crash Victims
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Hundreds of mourners turned out Thursday night in the Parkchester section of the Bronx to attend the wake for seven members of the same family who were killed when their SUV plunged off the Bronx River Parkway Sunday.
A funeral for the seven victims is set for Friday morning.
Seven open caskets in the Parkchester Funeral Home held three generations of a family -- Maria Gonzalez, 45; her 10-year-old daughter Jazlyn; her parents, 85-year-old Jacob Nunez and 81-year-old Ana Julia Martinez; her sister, 39-year-old Maria Nunez, and two nieces, seven-year-old Naily Rosario and three-year-old Maily Rosario.
The crash's seven victims. Click to enlarge.
The grandparents had just arrived from the Dominican Republic for a family visit, and Maria Gonzalez was driving them home from the airport.
The seven victims' bodies were wearing white, and Jazlyn Gonzalez was wearing the dress she would have worn at her first communion this Saturday.
The line of mourners to enter the funeral home stretched around the block for most of Thursday evening and night.
A vice consul of the Dominican Republic told NY1 his consulate is helping pay for the seven funerals and the transfer of the grandparents' bodies to their homeland for burial.
The consulate also got Delta to acquire 15 tickets for family members to attend to funerals, and aided three family members with acquiring visas.
St. Raymond's Church in the Bronx is also helping with funeral costs and individuals have donated more than $90,000 to the grieving family.
"You see the little girls, in their white dresses, with their grandparents there, the family crying, it's just a very sad day for this family. And today, the Bronx, New Yorkers, and people in the tri-state area, we all cry and mourn with them," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
"When everybody's gone, and we just find ourselves alone without them, then we're going to realize what happened and then we're going to start missing them," said Nicole, a relative of the victims. "We just want to remember when we were happy, and family reunions, when everybody was laughing, enjoying the moment. That's the image we want to keep in our minds."
This came as safety improvements continued on the section of the Bronx River Parkway where the fatal crash took place.
The State Department of Transportation on Wednesday began installing concrete barriers along the viaducts crossing the Bronx Zoo, East Tremont Avenue and the Amtrak tracks.
Police say Maria Gonzalez was speeding as she traveled south-bound through West Farms with her six family members in a Honda Pilot. She then lost control, suddenly struck the parkway's center barrier, careened back across three lanes of traffic, hit the high curb and then flipped over the four-feet-high guardrail.
The vehicle fell 60 feet and landed upside-down in unused section of the Bronx Zoo, killing all seven occupants.
The speed limit in the area will be lowered to 35 mph while the barriers are being put in place.
New signs and lane lines are also being placed along the stretch.
Fordham University has set up a relief fund on behalf of the victims' families, as Gonzalez and Nunez were employees in the university's custodial services department. For more information on the fund for the victims' families, call Fordham's Office of the President at 1-718-817-3000.