MIAMI (WSVN) - Heartbroken parents shared their grief in court, Thursday, after a wrong-way crash on Interstate 95 claimed the life of their 23-year-old daughter and left their son bound to a wheelchair.
It has been nearly a year since Noel Criales lost his daughter, Carmen Criales, in a fatal wrong-way car wreck on I-95 in Miami, back in December. She died on impact after 24-year-old Franklin Chavez, the driver of a car going the wrong way, caused a chain reaction crash.
“It’s almost 11 months since the tragedy happened,” said Noel. “It’s still painful. It’s never going to go away. I have to wake up and carry it with me.”
Criales’ son, Bryan Criales, and his wife, Elisa Diaz, were also in the vehicle at the time of the fatal crash, and both suffered devastating injuries.
“I was a month and a half in the hospital,” Diaz’s mother said. “Now I’m with my son, fighting with this pain inside me, but I want justice.”
According to investigators, the three family members were on their way to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport when the crash occurred.
Chavez struck one vehicle, sending it flying into a concrete wall, and then collided into Criales’ car head-on.
Chavez was charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.
On Thursday, Chavez sat before a judge during a status hearing and faced the family members of the victims for the first time since the accident.
“It’s painful because that’s my baby; that’s my only one daughter,” said Noel, “and that’s my son.”
The crash left their son wheelchair-bound and in need of 24/7 care. The crash also left Diaz hospitalized for over a month. “I was in the hospital for a month and a half,” she said. “Now, I’m with my son fighting with this pain inside me, but I want justice.”
In court, their son sat in his wheelchair beside his mother, holding a large portrait of his late sister.
“Look in his face,” said Noel. “He got four surgeries in his brain. He doesn’t recover his memory.”
Diaz, who is also his primary caretaker, said it is difficult to take care of her son with the injuries she sustained, on top of a lack of insurance to keep up with his medical bills.
Thankfully, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family pay for their son’s medical bills.”I wasn’t expecting all of this,” said Noel. “We never could prepare for this situation.”
Chavez is expected to appear back in court on March 17.
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