The New York mother who died in an alleged road rage attack outside a 7-Eleven on Wednesday had thrown herself in front of the oncoming car in order to shield her six children, reports said Thursday.
Melissa DeLoatch, 32, was outside a 7-Eleven store in Rockland County, N.Y., when her husband, Sean, asked 35-year-old Jason Mendez to stop smoking near his children, the New York Times reported. After the two men argued, Mendez got into his car and rammed the family of eight, backed up, and slammed into them a second time, police said.
“My sister saw him coming at the last second and threw her body in front of the stroller and pushed the kids away,” her brother James Christopher, 28, told the New York Daily News.
“The kids … they had to see their mom get run over, then run over again,” Christopher told the paper. “He drove over her, reversed and drove (over her) again.”
Witnesses told WNBC-TV they saw a woman lying on the ground severely injured and heard a baby crying. The stroller was mangled.
DeLoatch, her husband and their six children-- ranging from 11 months to 10 years old-- were rushed to the hospital. DeLoatch, who learned two days prior that she was pregnant with the couple’s seventh child, was later pronounced dead, the New York Post reported.
While the three eldest children were not seriously injured, the 32-year-old mother couldn’t fully defend her three youngest children sitting in the carriage from the oncoming car, according to the Post.
Charlene Rodriguez, a relative, told the paper that the 2-year-old daughter suffered a concussion and needed leg surgery, while her 3-year-old son had a lacerated liver. The 35-year-old husband and their 11-month-old child remained hospitalized. Police had said the injuries were non-life threatening.
Mendez was taken down with a stun gun by police after he exited the car with a knife, Haverstraw police said. He was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, and seven counts of attempted murder, WABC-TV reported. He pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment Wednesday night.
Court records show that Mendez, of Washingtonville, had an arrest record in San Antonio, Texas, where he had recently lived. He had faced charges of theft, drunken driving and domestic violence, the Times reported.
“Killer u killed my wife lover best friend mother of my 6 kids my world,” her husband wrote on Facebook after the incident, linking to an article about Mendez’s arrest.
The DeLoatch family had reportedly been living in a family shelter and had just earned enough money for a new apartment to raise their soon-to-be seven children.
“Her life was her children,” Charlene Rodriguez told the Post. “It’s been a nightmare, one the whole family wishes we could wake up from.”