The driver with whom they collided was also killed

By Harriet Sokmensuer
January 04, 2021 04:56 PM
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Credit: gofundme

The seven children and one adult from California riding in the same vehicle who were killed in a head-on collision New Years Day have been identified by their family.

"On January 1, 2021 our families (Verdin, Pulido, and Ayala) lost eight members in a tragic accident," the organizer of  a GoFundMe page created Sunday wrote. "Gabriela Verdin, Brooke Pulido, Giada Pulido, Jonah Pulido, Mia Pulido, Daniella Ayala, Camila Ayala, and Anthony Ayala were taken from us while returning home."

The group was killed in a fiery crash New Year's Day when a 2013 Dodge Journey, driven by 28-year-old Daniel Luna, collided with Gabriela Verdin's 2007 Ford F-150 pickup truck, according to The New York Times and Associated Press. Luna also died in the collision.

The California Highway Patrol said that Luna was traveling southbound on the highway in his Dodge SUV when he veered onto the dirt shoulder. Luna then overcorrected when returning onto the highway and swerved over the centerline where he struck the Ford head-on.

Officials said the pickup truck became "fully engulfed in flames," and all nine occupants were killed, including Luna.

"While we cannot begin to understand the reason we lost them all at once, we are burdened with the reality of having to lay eight family members to rest at one time," the GoFundMe page states. "We take solace in knowing that they left this world together."

As of Monday, the GoFundMe page has raised more than $66,000.

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Authorities are investigating the crash with the Fresno County Coroner’s Office to determine whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the deadly incident.

Officials also noted that Verdin's vehicle only had six available seatbelts. The chances of severe injury or death are "far greater" when traveling in a car without a seatbelt on, Capt. Kevin Clays of the California Highway Patrol said at a news conference, according to the Times.

"It's tragic for the community," Clays said of the crash. "It’s tragic for our officers that respond to these incidents."