Family speaks about fatal I-440 accident

May 27, 2008 12:18:01 PM PDT
Authorities have charged a man with driving while intoxicated and several felonies after police say he drove his van the wrong direction on Interstate 440, slamming into another vehicle and killing three.

The driver, 30-year-old Francisco Martinez of Knightdale, was not seriously injured. He is listed in good condition at Wake Med.

The victims had all relocated from Mexico to the Raleigh area to find a better life. Relatives say they were doing well, until a van came at them on the wrong side of Interstate 440.

More than a day after the twisted wreck on Raleigh's Inner Beltline, grieving family members were still trying to figure out how an accused drunk driver ended up speeding on the wrong side of the freeway and killing three people.

"We miss them. And we don't know exactly what happened," Victims' Relative, Felipe Julio said.

Brothers, Guillermo and Dagoberto Jimenez, were in the front seat of a Lexus, coming home from a wedding party when a van hit them at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

"This is terrible. That's all I can say, it's terrible," Julio said.

Fourteen-year-old Santiago Pascual Tellez was in the back seat. He was also killed when the Chevy van slammed into the car.

"We're going to miss him a lot because he was so nice brother," Victim's Sister, Blanca Pasquel Tellez said.

Santiago's family says he was a good student at East Wake Middle School who loved to play basketball and soccer. They also say he was a happy child who wanted to grow up to be a policeman.

"His friends called him Smiley, because he was so funny to everybody. And he smiled too much. That's why they called him Smiley," Blanca said.

Both families were originally from Michoacan, Mexico.

The Jimenez family is now placing donation boxes in Latino markets hoping to raise money to send the brothers back to their native country.

"We're going to send them to Mexico because that's where they came from. And we're trying to get some help," Julio said.

When Martinez is released from the hospital, he will be jailed and charged with DWI and three counts of death by motor vehicle.


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