What to Know
- Family and friends gathered Thursday to say their final goodbyes to the pregnant mother of six who was run down in front of her family
- Police said a driver intentionally rammed into the family of Melissa DeLoatch after an argument last week in Garnerville
- DeLoatch's mother told News 4 that her only daughter had thrown herself in front of the car to shield her children and called her a 'hero'
Family and friends gathered Thursday to say their final goodbyes to the pregnant 32-year-old mother of six who was run down last week in front of her family outside a New York 7-Eleven.
The funeral for Melissa DeLoatch followed her wake at St. Ann's Church in Nyack Thursday morning. Loved ones, some carrying flowers, were seen crying and hugging outside the church.
DeLoatch was killed when an enraged driver plowed into her and her family. DeLoatch's mother, Joan Christopher, told News 4 that her only daughter had thrown herself in front of the car to shield her children, who were all hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries along with their father.
Outside the church, Brent Newbury, who lives next door to DeLoactch's parents, said what DeLoatch did to save her children was a selfless act.
"Melissa and her parents would come over frequently. We would see them in the backyard playing, young kids," Newbury said. "Very happy family and it is just a shame that some minor incident in front of a convenience store would cause someone to get into a car and run a family over. It's disastrous. It really is."
The man who allegedly deliberately rammed into the family outside the convenience store on Central Highway in Garnerville last Wednesday afternoon, 35-year-old Jason Mendez, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and other crimes. Witnesses said he plowed into the family, then reversed and ran over them again, after the father asked him not to blow cigarette smoke in the kids' direction. He was arrested at gunpoint when he refused to drop a knife.
A vacate order was posted on the store following the deadly wreck, and people were stopping by to leave flowers and candles. Christopher said the support is much needed as the DeLoatch children try to pick up the pieces and move in with their lives without their mother.
Mendez's attorney said in court that his client had just lost his cellphone repair job a week ago. Mendez, himself, said nothing to reporters as he was led from a police car into the courthouse in handcuffs.