Mom who survived crash that killed family arrives to wake on stretcher
The New Jersey mom who survived a horrific Delaware car crash that killed her husband and four daughters last month arrived on a stretcher to the Friday afternoon wake — where hundreds of mourners gathered to pay their respects.
Mary Rose Ballocanag, 53, was silent, with her eyes closed, as she was rolled out of an ambulance in front of the Church of St. Anastasia in Teaneck. She was dressed entirely in black, wearing a bandage on her left hand and a cast on one foot.
Inside the church, she sat in a wheelchair as she spoke to the weeping family members and friends filing through.
“Thank you, I’m doing OK,” Ballocanag told the Post in a soft voice.
A single portrait photo of each family member and a spray of white flowers covered each of the five closed, wooden caskets arranged in a semi-circle in the church’s main chapel.
There were also eight floral wreaths and sashes, some donated by the local Filipino American Society of Teaneck, and a single candle.
Ballocanag was the sole survivor of the July 6 crash that claimed the lives of her husband, Audie Marquez Trinidad, 61, and their daughters — Kaitlyn, 20, Danna, 17, and 14-year-old twins Melissa and Allison — as the family drove along a highway on their way home from a Fourth of July holiday trip to Ocean City, Md.
A southbound work truck, driven by Alvin S. Hubbard Jr., crossed the grassy median and slammed into the family near the northern Delaware town of Townsend.
Ballocanag, a nurse at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, suffered multiple fractures to her arms and legs and has endured multiple surgeries since.
The family had waited to go on the Maryland trip until Kaitlyn, a nursing student, finished her semester at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in The Bronx. Danna, the second oldest, was going into her last year of high school.
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The twins, who turned 14 on June 17, had just finished eighth grade. Outside the church, Nicole Yildirim, 14, classmate of Allison and Melissa at Thomas Jefferson Middle School — said she was close with both girls, especially Melissa. As she paused in front of their caskets, she made a solemn, tearful promise.
“I told them, ‘I’m here for you,’” she said. “I told them, ‘when I play volleyball I’m playing for you.’”
“We were going to start high school together, so when I go she’ll be with me,” she added. “It hadn’t hit me that much until today. Then I went into the church and saw the caskets… I’ve known them for so long. It’s hard to know they’re dead.”
Speaking late last month from the Kessler Rehabilitation Center in Saddlebrook, the grieving mom said she is “dying inside over and over again.”
She also said she is suing Hubbard, who has not been charged as the investigation continues.
“Justice will not bring them back,” she said. “But we will be in a safer place.”
Ballocanag continues to recover at the center, and relatives say she has a long road ahead.
A funeral for the family will be held Saturday at 9:15 a.m. at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
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