Man Accused Of The Death Of Meriden Children Has Charges Increased

With nearly two dozen relatives of the children he is alleged to have killed looking on, Israel Gonzalez appeared before Meriden Superior Court Judge Philip Scarpellino today. And, Gonzalez’s charges were increased as a result of his blood alcohol level being found to have been three times the legal limit at the time he crashed an SUV into a Subaru, whose occupants included Michael Cruz, Gina Schroder and three of their children.

Two counts of second degree manslaughter, three counts of second-degree assault and operating a motor vehicle under the influence were tacked on to previous charges. Bond for the undocumented immigrant remains at $1 million.

Among the family in attendance, the maternal grandmother of Tatiana Cruz, 5, and her 8-year-old brother, Lorenzo, who perished in the crash.

“I have 11 grandchildren, including Tatiana and Lorenzo. And, there always will be 11,” said Barbel Valentin, whose daughter and son-in-law have four children.

Often times, when there is a death of a child, those who have the most difficulty coping are children that were closest to them.

“Me and Tatiana always used to put on little shows for our aunt. Me and Lorenzo used to always wrestle. I can’t believe it. It’s hard,” said 13-year-old cousin David Valentin, who was tearing up.

Funeral services for Tatiana and Lorenzo will be held Thursday, at 10 am, at the Coughlin-Lastrina Funeral Home in Middletown.

There is a Newtown connection to this tragedy. The mother of Newtown shooting victim Jesse Lewis is doing something special for the survivors of this accident.

She wanted to do a fundraiser. It’s gonna be in honor of her son, Jesse. And, she’s going to donate the proceeds to my family,” said an appreciate Michele Palmieri, who is an aunt of Michael Cruz, the father of the deceased children

The event will be staged he event will be held Wednesday, December 11, at il Monticello, in Meriden. The $35 fee includes dinner and a speaker. Tickets can be reserved by emailing maureen@jesselewischooselove.org.

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