A 36-year-old father and his two children died in a car crash in Kentucky as his wife and their newborn child were flying on a plane.
Agustin Gonzalez, a major in the U.S. Army, was driving through the state in late May with his three children when his Dodge Caravan van hit a tow truck that was stopped in the road to help a driver who was involved in another crash, WKYT reported.
“An uninvolved non-injury collision had occurred ahead, and the operator of a 2018 International tow truck owned by Crossroads Towing, equipped with yellow caution emergency lights, had stopped partially in the left lane to assist the involved occupant,” Kentucky state police said in a statement to People magazine.
Gonzalez died at the scene of the crash. His daughters, 6-year-old Noelle and 2-year-old Gwendolyn, died after they were taken to separate hospitals.
His 8-year-old son, Nicholas, suffered minor injuries and survived, reports said.
Gonzalez was going to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after graduating with a master’s degree from Duke University.
His wife, Melissa Gonzalez, and their son, Gabriel, were flying to Colorado Springs to meet them, People magazine reported.
When she arrived at their military home, officials and friends told her the tragic news.
“Thank you everyone for the outpouring of support for the Gonzalez family this Memorial Day. We are waiting for funeral arrangements to be finalized but the bodies of Augie, Noelle and Gwen will hopfully be back in NJ at the end of this week. The family has asked that your respect Melissa’s privacy at this time and please send any prayers and condolences through this site,” according to a GoFundMe set up for Melissa and her surviving children.
The page said that Gonzalez lived in Cary, North Carolina, while attending Duke while Melissa worked as a second-grade teacher at Horton’s Creek Elementary until she gave birth to Gabriel in March 2019.
“He was like full, bright, all the time, so I used to tell my kids you should learn from Augie,” Manaz Kuriyodath, a neighbor of the family, was quoted by People as saying.
— Military Times (@MilitaryTimes) June 3, 2019
“Even he goes through all these things—he had school to study, like his wife is not working, a 1-month-old baby, and he still always works out, plays every evening, makes sure he has fun with the kids, so he’s a great dad, a great friend,” she continued.
The driver of the tow truck was not hurt in the crash, WKYT reported.
On GoFundMe, more than $200,000 has been raised for the family so far.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Maj. Agustin M. Gonzalez and his two daughters Noelle and Gwendolyn,” Col. Monte L. Rone, commander of the Stryker brigade combat team who Gonzalez was slated to work under, said in a statement to the Army Times. “We want to send our heartfelt condolences to the Family and Friends of the Gonzalez family. We will continue to support his family during this tragic time and honor Agustin’s legacy as a father, husband, son, and Soldier in the U.S. Army.”
“All the members of the Sanford community are greatly saddened by the tragic news of the passing of Augie Gonzalez and his two precious daughters,” said Judith Kelley, dean of Duke, reported the Army Times.
She said, “Augie was an exemplary student, deeply engaged with life in our school, and it was with great pride that we congratulated him and his family on his graduation just two weeks ago when he was accompanied by his wife Melissa and their children. Our thoughts go out to his family during this trying time.”