SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Family members of a father and grandfather, who passed away after crashing into a retention pond, are speaking about their loved ones. All while one of the family members continues her recovery.

“He was always happy,” said Pedro Pages, nephew of the deceased, “lightened everybody up when his presence was around.”

A pair of brothers are remembering their unforgettable uncle, Mario Laza, Monday. The 56-year-old father and grandfather died in an accident last week.

“He had a big heart for all of us, for everyone a big heart,” said Yusle Disperez, a friend of the victim, through a translator.

“As long as people around him happy, that’s what makes him happy, and that’s the type of person he’s always been his entire life,” said Pedro.

He lost his life after being rushed to the hospital, but he wasn’t the only victim.

Nieves Mattos, Laza’s 80-year-old mother, was also critically injured, but is said by her grandsons to be improving and expected to recover.

“She’s breathing on her own,” said Lazaro, nephew of the deceased. “Day by day, minute by minute, she’s getting better.”

The wreck off happened off the Florida Turnpike and Southwest Eighth Street Friday morning and spawned a tense retention pond rescue that included gators and gun-clutching responders.

“They were on the way to work, and I think, we think, they forgot something at the house, and on that exit, getting off the exit to go home, that’s where it happened,” said Pedro.

“Can we get an ETA on fire rescue,” said an operator on Broadcastify. “We have one out of the vehicle, CPR.”

Laza unfortunately didn’t make it.

“He just loved life,” said Lazaro.

Memorials from the city of Miami Springs and a GoFundMe was created by family to offer support as faith and optimism for the surviving Mattos remain strong.

“With a lot of prayer and the family pulling together, she definitely pulled through, I mean, she’s a very strong lady, too,” said Pablo.

“That lady is a warrior. She’s strong, man,” said Lazaro.

“From the bottom of my heart, I just want to say thank you to everybody and to the community, I appreciate it,” said Pablo.

The family told 7News that Mattos has been taken off of a breathing tube and is recovering and doing better each day.

The family has established a GoFundMe to help with both their unexpected medical and funeral expenses. To help, click here.

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