NJ medical student killed in Florida crash; mother, brother critical

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Thursday, December 17, 2015
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At a time most families are making plans for the holidays, one Atlantic County family is making funeral plans.

MAYS LANDING, N.J. (WPVI) -- At a time when most families are making plans for the holidays, one Atlantic County family is making funeral plans.

Twenty-three-year-old Carmen Criales was killed by a wrong-way driver while in Florida. The young medical student's mother and brother were also critically injured.

Carmen Criales had dreams of becoming a doctor and moving back to her native Peru to help people there. But now her story is of a promising young life cut short.

Family members say Carmen was a very impressive young lady. Carmen's uncle, Jose Criales, says he knew her since she was a baby and watched her grow up to become a smart, beautiful, kind person, getting ready to finish her undergraduate studies at Rowan University, on scholarship, before moving onto medical school.

This past Sunday she was in a car in South Florida with her mother, Eliza Diaz, and her brother, Bryan Criales, on their way to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to catch an early morning flight back home.

For some reason, someone driving on the other side of I-95 veered into oncoming traffic, and hit Carmen's vehicle head-on.

Carmen was killed instantly. Her mother, brother, and the person driving the other car, all remain hospitalized in critical condition.

A Gofundme page has been set up to help the family pay for medical expenses and for Carmen's funeral. But family members say even if you can't make a donation, there is still a way you can help.

Carmen's uncle, Freddy Chirinos, explains, "Pray for them, for Bryan and for Eliza. Because in this moment we have a lot of pain and grief in the family. So we just want their prayers."

Meanwhile, the investigation into the crash continues. There's no word why the driver of the other vehicle lost control. Toxicology test results are expected in the next few weeks.