Family demands change, grieves and fights

- The family of a grandmother and her three grandchildren killed in a crash on State Road 44 in DeLand were back at the intersection, demanding the state do more to make the intersection safe, and do it more quickly.

Sandra Lopes had her granddaughter, Aleah Faith Zurzulo, 4, visiting from Jacksonville, so she drove to Lake County to surprise her two other granddaughters, Aryana Thomas, 1, and Jadyn Thomas, 4.
She planned to take them to Freedom Park in DeLand, Kamilia Lopes said. The grandmother and the three children never made it.
Florida Highway Patrol investigators said Sandra Lopes, 58, was driving east after noon in a Jeep Wrangler with the children on State Road 44 when a sport utility vehicle driven by Alan Seidel cut into its path at the intersection of Grand Avenue, west of DeLand. The Jeep collided with the SUV, rolled over and caught fire. Sandra Lopes and children perished in the fiery wreck, troopers said.

The family members back at the crash scene want the Florida Department of Transportation to move more quickly on changes to the intersection. Lopes' sister Christina Swim was too overcome with emotion to talk about those changes.

“Everybody keeps saying ‘you’ll get over it’. I’m never going to get over it.”

The state is eventually planning a roundabout for the intersection, but Lisa Smith, cousin to the 3 children, wants action now.
“We just feel like something isn’t happening quick enough. I mean why wait?... Two weeks is long enough. Put up a temporary  light up. How hard is it to put a temporary light up? They do it all the time on the roads.”

While a temporary intersection is planned, it isn't helping the family. Two members of that family almost came to blows during the event, one of them, the father of two of the children that died in that accident. Eventually calm was restored when one of the fighting family members decided to leave the event.

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories You May Be Interested In – includes Advertiser Stories