100 mph SUV hits van, mom & daughter killed

February 1, 2013 3:12:55 PM PST
A mother and daughter from Camden County are dead after the minivan they were in was hit by an SUV travelling at speeds up to 100 mph, the prosecutor's office said.

Anada Medina, 36, and Stephanie Garcia, 18, both of Cherry Hill, were killed in the crash on Thursday afternoon in Merchantville.

It happened at 3:40 p.m. at Chapel Avenue and Russell Avenue, right in front of the Merchantville Elementary School.

"Nine years and three days now," said Richard Perez.

Nine years and three days - that's how long Perez and Medina had been together raising her five children.

"They were the best. They were my navigation in life," said Perez.

According to investigators, the mother and daughter were in a Honda Odyssey minivan when the vehicle was hit head-on by a Dodge Durango.

The Durango, driven by a 31-year-old man, was travelling up to 100 mph in a 25 mph zone, the prosecutor's office said.

Police say he skipped a traffic circle entirely and drove directly into oncoming traffic.

"All the witnesses are saying they were doing about 100 mph. They're saying that the guy was on drugs - but that's being investigated but he wasn't okay," said Richard Quinones, the victim's brother. The fatal crash has left relatives devastated.

Last summer the family moved from North Jersey to Merchantville and were happy to become homeowners for the first time.

"They moved down here because they wanted to have a better life," said Quinones. Counselors were on hand Friday at Cherry Hill West High where Garcia was a senior.

Her principal called the honors student a gentle and generous soul and a wonderful addition to the school.

Garcia wrote an article for her student news website back in November, detailing her new life in our area.

"Looking for the right house took us nearly the entire summer," Garcia wrote. "Luckily, at the last minute we found our dream home."

About two years ago, her mother became very ill. Garcia wrote that her mother had five major back surgeries and she was forced to drop out of school to care for her four younger siblings as well as her mom.

Garcia appeared to be determined to finish school, writing:

"I may not know the overwhelming majority of the school, or how most things work around here, but what I do know is that here I'm given opportunities that were never given to me before, and I'm more than ecstatic to be graduating with the Class of 2013 here at West."

A dream and life cut short and now her four younger siblings are left with two painful losses.

The family is wondering what to do next.

"They were all my backbone. Now I gotta be strong for the kids but it's hard, it's hard," said Perez.

The driver of the Durango and a passenger are still in critical condition at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. Their names have not been released.

The prosecutor's office said they are investigating to determine the appropriate charges.