"A nightmare of unimaginable, frightening, real proportions."
Those were the words from Pastor Monsignor John Graham on Friday at the funeral for a family grieving from the pain of having to bury seven of their family members after a horrific crash took their lives.
Hymns, incense and sorrow filled an ornate old church in the Bronx for the funeral of the family members, all killed when their SUV flew over a guardrail and plummeted 60 feet.
Seven shiny white caskets — one, a 3-year-old's, was smaller than the rest — crowded the space before the altar at St. Raymond's Church.
One mourner, Direna Small, described the tragedy succinctly: "Seven at one time. Three generations. No goodbye."
I will never be able to express how grateful my family and I are. Throughout all the sorrow and darkness this support is the only light I see.
- - Jonel González
Killed in Sunday's wreck were Jacob Nuñez and Ana Julia Martínez, who were visiting from the Dominican Republic community of Manuel Bueno; their daughters, Maria González and Maria Nuñez; González's daughter, Jocelyn González, 10; and Maria Nuñez's daughters Niely Rosario, 7, and Marly Rosario, 3.
Jonel Gonzalez, 18, lost his mother, sister, grandparents and three cousins in the accident.
"No words can explain what I am feeling," González said in a statement to Fox News Latino. "I lost my world, the most beautiful and amazing women in my life, but it's amazing when you feel like you have no one, then you realize how people are really there for you."
An online donation campaign set up to help the grieving family reeling from the loss has raised over 100,000 dollars to help pay for Friday's services.
Police say Maria González was driving on the elevated Bronx River Parkway when the SUV clipped the median, then crossed three lanes of traffic and hit a curb that launched it over the guardrail and down to the grounds of the Bronx Zoo.
Hundreds of relatives and friends arrived for the funeral Friday morning, some in a long white limousine that bore paper signs with the names of the dead. A church bell tolled slowly and a dozen children from the parish elementary school — which Jocelyn attended — lined the church steps as a kind of honor guard.
The funeral came one day before what would have been Jocelyn's First Holy Communion, Graham said.
Police closed off busy Castle Hill Avenue before the seven hearses arrived. About 200 people without connections to the family lined up in hopes of getting in to the funeral, but the church, built in 1903, was packed well beyond its 650-person capacity with friends and family. Scores of people stood through the Mass.
Prayers were said in English and Spanish, and a choir sang hymns in both languages.
At a point in the Mass where congregants share a sign of peace — usually a handshake — dozens of relatives left their pews for long embraces with each other, many of them crying. The display affected many other mourners; a nun dabbed at her eyes, an usher's lower lip quivered.
At the end of the Mass, Bishop Josu Iriondo walked down the steps from the altar, sprinkled the caskets with holy water and waved incense over them.
The girls and their mothers were buried at St. Raymond Cemetery in the Bronx, Graham said. The grandparents' bodies were to be returned to the Dominican Republic.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.