Family: Pregnant Woman Died Saving Husband, 6 Kids from Murderous Driver Who Drove into Them Twice

Family members say pregnant mom Melissa Castillo DeLoatch, 32, died saving her kids on Wednesday in New York.

“Melissa did what any mother would have done and tried to protect her children,” her cousin Adrienne Rodriguez wrote on a GoFundMe campaign started for the family. “She was a true hero. Melissa was full of love, smiles, life and so much more. All of us are going to miss you beyond words can explain.”

Police in Rockland County, County said Jason Mendez, 35, drove his car at the family twice, smashing his vehicle into them at a 7-Eleven. The suspect allegedly struck all eight family members: Deloatch, her husband Shawn DeLoatch, and their six kids.

A 7-Eleven employee claimed Mendez did this after Shawn DeLoatch asked that he not smoke near the kids, according to WABC. This started an argument. Mendez not only drove his car into the family of eight once, but he reversed, then plowed forward again, police said.

“My sister saw him coming at the last second and threw her body in front of the stroller and pushed the kids away,” Melissa’s brother James Christopher, 28, told the New York Daily News.

The couple’s 3-year-old, 2-year-old and 11-month-old children all sustained serious injuries, according to WABC. So did their father. The other three kids–5, 7 and 10–reportedly sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

“Melissa was not only my daughter, she was my best friend,” said mother Joan Christopher.

Officers said they apprehended Mendez at the scene. He was still in his vehicle. They said they tased him because he was still armed with a knife, and refused to drop it.

The defendant pleaded not guilty to charges Wednesday night.

[Screenshot of Mendez, center, via WABC]

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