THORNTON, Colo. (CBS4) – A crash in Thornton on Thursday that killed five people from the same family was hard to deal with even for veteran police officers at the scene.
In addition to those who were killed, four people were hospitalized after the crash.
Witnesses say a reckless driver who had two children and an adult passenger in a Ford Expedition SUV was speeding southbound down N. Grant St. about 5:45 p.m. when the SUV crossed over the median near 84th and hit a 1994 Mazda in the turn lane. The SUV then struck the raised median, became airborne and then landed on top of a Chevy S-10 pickup.
All five people in the pickup died. They were a family, Randy Stollsteimer, his wife Crystal, and their 3 children, Sebastion, 12, Darrian, 8, Cyrus, 6.
A memorial to the family has appeared near where the crash happened. Family members said news of the accident was devastating.
“It was just horrifying to see,” said Alejandro Aldaco, Crystal’s uncle. “All we can hope for is justice, of course, and that this type of thing doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
He first saw the accident on the news, not knowing his family was involved.
“They loved their children and they stuck together as a couple,” said family friend Devon King.
“She took care of her kids like they were the most precious things in the world,” said neighbor Jacob Bradley.
“Unfortunately, it’s fitting that they were all together. It was them, all the time,” said Aldaco.
A spokesperson for the Stollsteimer family said their message is to tell all drivers to slow down and be aware.
Police have identified the driver of the Expedition as Monica Chavez, 33, of Denver. The two juvenile passengers are her children, a boy, 6, and a girl, 10.
The SUV hit a small car before landing on the Chevy pickup. The driver of that car was Victor Omar Madrid, 47, of Denver.
After that series of events, the SUV then rolled into a store at the intersection of 84th and Grant, causing extensive damage to the building.
“”We’ll be looking at a lot of different theories, whether it was just reckless driving, whether it was a medical condition or whether it was drugs or alcohol involved,” said Thornton Police Dept. spokesman Matt Barnes.
Chavez was recently put on probation after being charged in a disturbance in the neighborhood where she lives.
“This was no fault of her own, Monica was very upset, she’s actually going to dispute that in court,” said Chavez’s neighbor Adrian McKinley.
Paul Roggow, manager of Urban Mattress, was inside when he saw the SUV coming at the store through the corner of his eye.
“The desk had been pushed forward and there was glass everywhere and the end of the car was against the desk, upside down,” said Roggow.
Phillip Gutierrez, another witness, told CBS4 he helped get the children out of the SUV.
“There was a mother that was inside, she was unconscious.There was a little girl that was under a bunch of debris that was crying. I got her out. Her brother was somewhere in the van. I got to the back of the van where I started throwing debris. The little boy was trapped under the tire and I started moving stuff to get him out,” Gutierrez said.
The crash remains under investigation Friday night.