New York mom Melissa DeLoatch was in a 7-Eleven parking lot with her husband and six children when a car came hurtling towards them, striking the whole family.
After running over the family once and going through the store’s front window, suspect Jason Mendez then backed over them, Dearly reported.
The children and husband, Shawn DeLoatch, were injured and Melissa tragically lost her life.
The reason behind the driver’s actions? Witnesses said Mendez was allegedly angered that Shawn asked him not to smoke near his children.
Now, Melissa’s family is mourning the 32-year-old, who was pregnant at the time she lost her life, according to Lohud.
Melissa’s mother, Joan Christopher, was heartbroken by the loss but said her daughter died a “hero.”
The mom lost her life while shielding her youngest child, who was in a stroller, from the car. Christopher revealed:
“My daughter, who is a hero, threw herself in front of the stroller — in front of the car. He ran her over, not once, but twice.”
She called Mendez an “animal” for running over her daughter. She doesn’t understand why he decided to do so. Christopher said:
“She’s a hero. She’s my hero. But it doesn’t take away any of the pain.”
Melissa’s husband, Shawn, has also been struggling with the loss. He is now a single dad to six children.
The father shared photos of him and his wife together to Facebook.
We said i do y u leave me come home to ur husband and 6 kids baby please i need u i love n miss u
The mourning husband wrote:
We said i do y u leave me come home to ur husband and 6 kids baby please i need u i love n miss u.
More than 150 people attending Melissa’s funeral, a testament to how loved she was by the community.
Mendez has since been charged with second-degree murder and seven counts of second-degree attempted murder.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.