BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — A fatal accident Tuesday morning left four people dead after a three-vehicle crash off County Road 388 right near ECP Airport. Now members of the families are sharing memories of their loved ones.
According to several family members, three out of four victims of Tuesday mornings crash on Highway 388 have been identified.
Married couple Angel Garcia, his wife Rachele Garcia, and Gerald Mendenhall, who was reportedly driving the couple to the airport.
The Florida Highway Patrol says those three victims were headed to the airport together in a van, when a sedan traveling the opposite direction went to pass the car in front of them- hitting the van head on. Causing both cars to have no survivors.
“I heard about a wreck being in Panama City so I start a texting my brother since I know he Uber there, and warned him not to go down that road,” said Brother of Gerald Mendenhall, Herbert Mendenhall.
“When I first found out that he had first passed away, I didn’t even believe it was real, it still doesn’t feel quite real now,” said Bestfriend of the Garcia’s Derek Waldron.
The Garcia’s left behind four children. Mendenhall also left behind four children.
“I was so sad because he has four children and I knew that he was finally happy with life and how everything was going,” said Mendenhall.
The couple was headed to their anniversary trip.
“He was sure that she was the one, and he was adamant about that. He took in her two kids as if they were his own, Rachele took his daughter that he had, and they ended up having their own son named Lincoln together,” said Waldron.
“Just to know that there’s a big spot in this community has a big hole and a lot of people are going to have to step up,” said family friend, Lary Perry.
Family and community members say each of these victims left behind a great legacy.
“He was always respectful, always a hard worker, he always valued friends and family,” said Co-worker Philip Waddell.
“Angel is a great guy, he’s a part of our strong fabric of this community, when you say 850 strong you think of angel,” said Perry.
“Rachele was very open, very welcoming, she didn’t really meet a stranger. And she had some of the best hugs. It’s just as if they had known each other forever,” said Waldron.
“What a big heart he has, how caring he is. He would open his house to anyone, I’ve actually seen a facebook post where people said to that effect- ‘I remember he let me stay at his house’,” said Mendenhall.
Friends reiterated what good people they were and how dearly they will be missed.
“He was always trying to make people happy, always trying to make you feel special,” said Waldron.
“No matter what he said no matter what he did, when you left him you felt good about yourself,” said Waddell.
“I love you bro,” said Mendenhall.
Both the Garcia’s and the Mendenhall families are working on the funeral arrangements.
We have not yet heard from the fourth victim’s family involved in Tuesday morning’s crash.
Friends of the Garcia’s also shared with News 13 the Go Fund Me link created in their honor.