A Nevada couple whose entire family died when a driver sped through a red light — killing himself and eight others — say they’re struggling with feeling like their “world has ended” after the devastating wreck.
Erlinda Zacarias, of North Las Vegas, detailed her excruciating reality following the Jan. 29 crash that killed four of her children, her younger brother and two adult stepsons not far from the family’s home, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
“Because of negligence, innocent people died who deserved to live, who had a life full of hopes and dreams and goals,” Zacarias told the newspaper in Spanish late Monday.
The seven victims in the family’s Toyota Sienna have been identified as Fernando Yeshua Mejia, 5; Adrian Zacarias, 10; Lluvia Daylenn Zacarias, 13; Bryan Axel Zacarias, 15; Gabriel Mejia-Barrera, 23; David Mejia-Barrera, 25; and Jose Zacarias-Caldera, 35.
The family had just left a park and were headed to meet Erlinda and her husband, Jesus Mejia-Santana, at a restaurant when cops say Gary Dean Robinson, 59, plowed through a red light while driving over 100 mph in North Las Vegas and slammed into the minivan.
“That’s why they were together,” Zacarias continued. “And they died together.”
The wreck set off chain-reaction crashes involving six vehicles. Robinson, who had a history of speeding, and his passenger, Tanaga Ravel Miller, 46, also died. The accident was the deadliest on a Nevada roadway since officials began keeping records in 1991, according to the Review-Journal.
Zacarias said her entire world vanished in an instant and she’s now struggling to find a way forward.
“He and I have to live for each other, because we have nothing to live for,” she told the newspaper of her husband. “Our world has ended.”
Zacarias and Mejia-Santana spent Monday finalizing funeral plans. The four children and their uncle will be buried in Las Vegas later this month, while Mejia-Santana’s adult sons will be laid to rest in Mexico, the Review-Journal reported.
An online fundraiser set up by Zacarias had garnered more than $300,000 as of Wednesday.
“There are no words to describe my pains and suffering, knowing I will not be able to hug my children again,” Zacarias wrote. “My husband and I are in so much pain.”
Zacarias said she was overwhelmed by the donations.
“That has been very surprising to us,” she told the Review-Journal. “We have no words, but thank you.”
The shattered mom said she’s now relying on her Christian faith and the empathy of others.
“At the end of the day, if God wants it this way, we accept what he has put in front of us,” Zacarias told the newspaper.
Just minutes before the crash, Zacarias said she spoke to her teen daughter, KTNV reported.
“She said, ‘Mom, I’m on my way to you,’” Zacarias recalled. “I said, ‘I’ll be waiting here for you.’ They never showed up. I start calling their phones — they don’t answer.”
Now Zacarias is faced with the grueling task of burying her family, hopefully getting some sense of closure.
“That’s all I can do,” she told KTNV. “Because there’s nothing else I can do.”