Bronx Zoo Crash: Latino Fraternity Raises More Than $50,000 To Help With Funeral Expenses

on May 01 2012 12:48 PM
The "Jonel Gonzalez" Family Fund
Lambda Upsilon Lambda, a fraternity at Pace University, set up The "Jonel Gonzalez" Family Fund to help raise $100,000 within 29 days to help with the funeral expenses for Gonzalez’s mother, aunt, grandparents and sisters who died in the accident on the Bronx River Parkway. Photo credit: The donation's website

Lambda
Lambda Upsilon Lambda, a fraternity at Pace University, set up The Jonel Gonzalez Family Fund to help raise $100,000 within 29 days to help with the funeral expenses for Gonzalez’s mother, aunt, grandparents and sisters who died in the accident on the Bronx River Parkway. Photo credit: The donation's website

A Latino fraternity at Pace University has set up an online donation campaign to help one of its brothers, who lost seven family members in Sunday's accident along the Bronx River Parkway.

The Jonel Gonzalez Family Fund was set up by Lambda Upsilon Lambda. The group is looking to raise $100,000 within 29 days in order to help with the funeral expenses for Gonzalez's mother, aunt, grandparents and sisters.

So far, the website has garnered more than $54,900 dollars as of 12:20 on Tuesday. (Learn how to donate here.)

Police are not certain what caused the fatal crash but said they were called to the scene at Bronx River Parkway and East 180 Street around 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Medics said that all seven occupants in the vehicle died at the scene.

Police have determined that the 2004 Honda Pilot SUV driven by Maria Gonzalez, 45, was travelling southbound in the left lane of the Bronx River Parkway. The vehicle then struck the center median, crossed over three southbound lanes and hit the curb before becoming airborne and going over the guardrail. The vehicle landed approximately 60 feet down in a wooded area of the Bronx Zoo. 

A U.S. Department of Transportation report last year shows that stretch of the highway is on a list of one of New York's interchanges with the most severe safety needs. Some $8 million is needed for its repair, which includes providing a deceleration lane and improving the sight distance at the 177th Street exit ramp, according to the report.

Fox News Latino reported that Jonel Gonzalez is an 18-year-old freshman at Pace University. He has been a member of the fraternity since April 10.

According to that article, his fraternity brothers Keith García and Lizardo Uribe started the online donation campaign.

We based our assumption on what the average cost of a funeral can be, García told Fox News. He is the outgoing graduate advisor for Lambda Upsilon Lambda at Pace University.

For one individual a conservative funeral can be approximately $8,000, he added. But you have to take into account that the family is not based in New York City, they have relatives in the Dominican Republic, and the grandparents were from there - transporting the bodies to the DR is going to cost more.

Jonel Gonzalez lost his mother, Maria Gonzalez and his sister, Jocelyn Gonzalez, 10, and his grandparents Jacob Nunez, 85, and Ana Julia Martinez, 81, who were visiting from the Dominican Republic. His aunt Maria Nunez, 39, and her daughters Niely Rosario, 7, and Marly Rosario, 3, also died in the crash.

No words can explain what I am feeling, the freshman told Fox News Latino. I lost my world, the most beautiful and amazing women in my life, but it's amazing when you feel like you have no one, then you realize how people are really there for you.

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