Three generations of family members died in a car accident on Sunday, April 29 on the Bronx River Parkway. Jonel Gonzalez, a first-year student at Pace University and brother of La Unidad Latina Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity Incorporated, lost seven members of his family in this accident.
Gonzalez lost his mother, Maria Gonzalez, 45, who was driving the car, his grandparents, Jacob Nunez, 85, and Ana Julie Martinez, 81, his aunt Maria Nunez, 39, his two cousins, Niely Rosario, 7, Martly Rosario, 3, and his sister Jocelyn Gonzalez, 10.
Gonzalez’s family created a fund to help with funeral costs as well as the devastation surrounding this event, according to a letter by Jonathan Talmi, president of the Pi chapter of Lambda Upsilon Lambda, at SUNY New Paltz. Talmi sent the letter to every club president on campus and encouraged everyone to forward the message and make a donation.
“One can only imagine the immense pain my brother is going through,” Talmi said. “You can only imagine the financial toll one must bear by losing one family member, let alone seven.”
According to the donation website, the fund has been open since Monday, April 30 and has collected more than $74,000 from over 2,760 donors. The family has a goal of reaching $1 million to cover all of the predicted expenses.
Other members of Greek life are raising awareness for this cause, including Sigma Lambda Upsilon Señoritas Latinas Unidas Incorporated. One member of the sorority, Cinthia Pimentel, was incredibly moved by the effort Lambda Upsion Lambda is putting forth. She originally heard about the accident at church and said she hopes her sorority will be as diligent in their efforts when helping Gonzalez.
Pimentel said Gonzalez was inducted into the Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity this spring semester and has made great strides as a brother. She said she believes his participation in the fraternity will help him greatly in the near future.
Pimentel said she comes from the relative area where the accident happened and that the road is not safe or well-maintained.
“I think the highway is very dangerous and it’s really sad that something like this happened,” Pimentel said.
Fourth-year Women’s Studies major Jinnele Manohar said everything she has heard about the family has been positive, and it makes the death of the seven members resonate with people that much more.
“From what I hear they’re all the best people and nothing is bad about that family,” Manohar said. “The woman driving the car has never even gotten in any car accidents before, there must have been a demon in the car that day.”
On Wednesday, May 2, there was a candlelight ceremony called “Candle Light Memorial Vigil for the Seven,” in front of Capen at 8 p.m. Students were asked to show their support for Gonzalez in this time of need.
Other donations can be given to the Official Jonel Gonzalez Family Fund online at wepay.com/donations/the-jonel-gonzalez or by sending money to Hermano Lizardo Urbie’s Paypal account at email@example.com.