Couple who died in fiery crash had 8 children, 35 grandchildren

UPDATE — 11:30 p.m., 11/10/2015: 

WASHINGTON — The driver of the pickup truck involved in the deadly crash has been identified by police as 30-year-old Medardo Flores.


WASHINGTON — A couple in their 70s and a young girl were among the victims of a fiery crash over the weekend in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Santiago Merche, 75, and Elba Merche, 73, of D.C., leave behind eight children and 35 grandchildren, NBC Washington reports. The couple was in a van traveling to a Sunday evening service at a small church in Riverdale, Maryland, when a pickup truck smashed into their vehicle.

The truck burst into flames upon impact, according to Prince George’s County police.

In addition to the couple inside the van, 6-year old Staily Gomez was killed and a pregnant woman lost her unborn child. The driver of the pickup also died. Investigators are working to confirm the name of the pickup truck driver.

Thirteen people were injured.

“The victims range in age from six months old to several in their 70s. Their conditions range from minor to critical,” police say in a statement.

Investigators believe the truck driver had been involved in a previous crash nearby and tried to speed away from the scene.

“Moments later, he lost control of the truck, crossed the double yellow line and struck the church van which had been heading eastbound on Chillum Road,” police say.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said Monday he doesn’t believe a crash of this magnitude has happened in years.

“It’s clearly a tragic incident in the county,” Baker said. “We’re deeply disturbed about it. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the families.”

A Prince George’s County police spokesperson tells WTOP the investigation into the cause and circumstances surrounding the crash could take several months.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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