Irving family, friends cope with loss of third child in Grand Prairie crash

After a fatal car crash Sunday afternoon, an Irving family knew they would have to bury two of their children. The anguished parents learned Monday night that they would be burying a third.
Jesus Gonzalez, 6, died Monday night at Cook Children’s Medical Center, where he was transported after his parents’ stalled car was struck in the left lane of Interstate 30 in Grand Prairie. His sisters, Maria del Refugio Gonzalez, 12, and Diana Gonzalez, 13, died Sunday at the hospital. Maria de Jesus Gonzalez, 10, is in critical condition.

“The parents, as you can imagine, are in agony,” said Lamar Middle School Principal Joe Moreno, describing his visit to the family. Maria and Diana attended Lamar in Irving. “There are no words.”

Still holding out hope for the 10-year-old, the parents and relatives were making funeral arrangements Tuesday. A relative said she and the parents were not ready to talk.Grand Prairie police say their investigation is ongoing. On Sunday, shortly before 2 p.m., they received a report of a stranded motorist in the left lane of the highway. Juan Gonzalez, the father, stayed outside of the vehicle, directing traffic away from the car, in which were his children and wife, Maria Francisca Vasquez.

Before police could arrive, officers learned that the stranded 2004 Dodge Stratus had been hit by a Ford F-150 trying to switch lanes. Police said the children were not wearing seat belts.

“Honestly, the seat belts would likely not have made a difference,” said accident investigator Crystal Ziegler.Vasquez suffered minor injuries and the father and driver of the pickup were not injured. Ziegler added that the driver of the pickup has been cooperating in the investigation. It is unclear whether any charges will be filed.
According to Joe Moreno, the two oldest girls were quiet but well-liked.

“They were very sweet girls,” he said, and knew the oldest, Diana, more because she was an office helper so he saw her “almost every day,” running errands around campus. Maria del Refugio was in the choir at school.

Classmates and teachers are devastated by the deaths of the children, said Irving ISD spokesman Billy Rudolph.Moreno said Monday was one of his most difficult days on the job. This is his tenth year as a principal, though his first at Lamar.

“As the day went on” and more students found out about the death of the two girls, “more and more students were having difficulty understanding,” Moreno said.Teachers at Brown Elementary School, where Jesus attended, were also supported with extra counselors to help them and their young students cope.

Raymie Ramsey, principal at Brown, said Jesus was doing well in the first grade and was fond of his teacher, Sandy Torres. He asked to see Ms. Torres in the hospital before he died. She and Ramsey fulfilled the young boy’s wish.Rudolph said a memorial vigil is set for Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Lamar.

Irving family, friends cope with loss of third child in Grand Prairie crash