A New Jersey mother still grieving the loss of her family when she got the news on Wednesday that she’s been waiting four months to hear.
A New Castle County grand jury on Monday arraigned 45-year-old Maryland resident Alvin Hubbard III for killing five members of the Trinidad family during a head-on crash along Del. 1.
Hubbard faces five counts of second-degree vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault, as well as charges of inattentive driving, driving across a median and failing to obey traffic devices. Hubbard has not yet been arrested or arraigned.
The Trinidad family, homeward bound to Teaneck, N.J., in their minivan last July after a beach vacation in Ocean City, Maryland, were hit by the pickup Hubbard was driving when he had crossed the highway median. What caused him to cross the median isn’t clear.
Hubbard faces a vehicular homicide charge for each of the dead: Audie Trinidad, the family’s father, and his daughters, Nikki, Danna and twins Melissa and Allison.
Only the family’s mother, Mary Rose Ballocanag, survived.
She’s undergone six surgeries in Delaware and another in New Jersey, one of which required doctors to break her shoulder joint to rebuild it, said Diane Lucianna, her attorney. Ballocanag now lives mostly in a hospital bed in her home and under her brother’s care.
“Next to her is a big case full of trophies, merit badges, medals that her daughters received,” Lucianna said. “She spent so many years preparing these children for a successful life and it was all taken away from her.”
Ballocanag learned about the charges Monday, Lucianna said, ending the family’s months of anxious waiting. She said the charges are the ones the family wanted.
“They were, frankly, a little worried that because we’re out of state they might be forgotten. But they feel very grateful and happy they’re not forgotten,” she said. “It was a case that required investigation, and they did it and we’re satisfied with that.”
Investigators haven’t said why the pickup crossed the median into oncoming traffic. Hubbard was indicted under a warrant that conceals details of the investigation.
Second-degree vehicular homicide is a felony in Delaware which carries between zero and eight years in jail. Delaware law says a person is guilty of second-degree vehicular homicide when their criminally negligent or intoxicated driving causes a death.
There was no evidence revealed during the investigation of drug or alcohol use on Hubbard’s part, according to state justice department spokeswoman Julia Lawes.
“The indictment alleges that Hubbard operated his truck in a criminally negligent manner when he exited his lane of travel, crossed the centre median between a multi-lane highway, and crashed into oncoming traffic,” Lawes said in an email Wednesday.
His vehicular assault charges stem from injuries to others involved in the crash including Ballocanag and Brian Kern, who was in a third car involved in the deadly crash.
Lucianna said she plans to file a civil suit against Hubbard once the criminal proceedings end.
There were no guardrails separating the northbound and southbound lanes of Del. 1 where Hubbard crossed and the Trinidad family died. The Delaware Department of Transportation approved a plan to install them along stretches of Del 1., including where the crash occurred. The installation will begin in December.
As news of the crash spread across the nation, hundreds of thousands of dollars rolled into a GoFundMe account which helped pay for family funerals in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Hundreds of students, friends and neighbours attended those funerals.
It took investigators more than three months to conclude the investigation leading to Hubbard’s charges. That time frame quickly wore on the patience of surviving family.
Danny Trinidad, Audie’s younger brother, said the family is a bit relieved to finally hear the case is moving forward after four months of silence.
“We just want justice,” he said. It’s been so long, we are beginning to see some light.”
Danny Trinidad said Mary Rose is a little uplifted with news of a trial. He said this gives the family hope coming into a holiday season full of empty chairs.