A steady stream of family and friends trickled in and out of a townhome in Woodbridge, Va. to mourn the loss of a woman who died in a fatal car crash.
Mourners mainly congregated in the living room; there religious candles flickered. The blinds were closed, rosary beads were draped over glasses and angel figurines. On the coffee table, photos of their very own angel were displayed — Elsa Vasquez-Flores.
Elsa’s mother, Francisca Flores, a single mom from El Salvador, often referred to her three daughters as her “three angels.” Elsa was her oldest.
Sunday around 3 a.m., the 26-year-old was killed in a car crash — just a few miles from the family’s home.
“I know that my angel is gone, but I still have her in heaven. And, I have my two others for support.” she cried.
Elsa was in the process of obtaining her masters degree in special education and teaching from Liberty University. Through AmeriCorps, she worked with low-income families, and children who were working to learn English in the U.S.
“She had one of those souls that you could see. It’s like, she would literally shine.” said Alexandria Ballard, of her best friend. “Most importantly, Elsa did a lot for the people she loved, which is a lot of people.” Ballard explained.
Those closest to Elsa said she lived a life of love — and found love, with Antonio Gonzalez.
“When you think of the love of someone’s life, that’s what they were; It was them.” said Ballard.
“Antonio was Elsa’s true love,” said Flores, who affectionately refers to Antonio, 27, as her “son.” Antonio, or “Tony,” lives in the basement of the family’s Woodbridge home.
Sunday, around 3 a.m., the couple was on their way home from a friend’s birthday dinner. Tony was driving.
According to Prince William County Police, Tony and Elsa were traveling eastbound on Dale Boulevard, near Neabsco Mills Road in Woodbridge, when Tony crashed into a tractor trailer illegally parked on the right shoulder of Dale Boulevard — without parking lights, or hazard lights operational.
Elsa was pronounced dead at the scene.
The tractor trailer driver, Enrique Holmes, 35, of Florida, has been charged with failure to utilize emergency equipment.
Tony has been charged with DUI and manslaughter.
“I know that I won’t have my daughter back, no matter what the judge decides to do with Tony, I want Tony back — I don’t want to lose two kids,” cried Flores.
Flores said she hopes the community will give her family, and Tony’s family “more respect.”
“With one gone, I’m struggling enough, that I don’t know how I’m gonna survive. If the judge decides to take the other one, what I will do?” said Flores, and that he didn’t go out saying, ‘I’m gonna go kill my girlfriend,’ I mean he went, he took her out just to go have dinner with her.”
But on the death of her daughter, Flores adds, “that was already in God’s book, that was my daughters last day in his book. He’s an innocent boy, and I love him and it’s not his fault.”
Heartbreak, has even touched the couple’s rescue pitbull, Daisy.
“She hasn’t been able to sleep and she’s been crying.” Flores said. Explaining that though Daisy will never have her “mom” back — she hopes she will have her “dad” back soon.
Monday, Tony called Elsa’s family members and friends from the Prince William County jail. Frantically, they struggled to set up accounts — finally, Tony got through.
“That’s what [Elsa] would want. She would want him to be here, so he doesn’t have to go through it alone, he’s alone right now, he needs to be here.” Ballard explained. “You have to love, you have to forgive — because she was really good at that.”