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Three young brothers remembered after SUV flipped into Holland-area pond

The 1-year-old passed away a day after his 3-and-4-year-old brothers
Posted at 4:44 PM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 12:08:22-05

HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A third child has now died after the SUV they were in left James Street in Holland Township on Thursday, flipped over a curb, and landed upside down in a retention pond.

Kent County Medical Examiner's Office has notified the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department that the 1-year-old boy passed away Friday due to injuries received in the crash.

The other two children passed away Thursday at the hospital.

The SUV was being driven by a 30-year-old woman, who was able to escape. When deputies arrived on scene, they found her frantically trying to get the kids out of the car.

“I know she was out when deputies arrived,” said Captain J. Douglas with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. “She was in the water, screaming, hysterical as anybody would be when they couldn’t get to their children.”

Capt. Douglas said his deputies rushed into the water to save those children without wet suits. One day later, as debris and sippy-cups still sat frozen in the pond, deputies are still thinking about the family.

“Pretty much everybody that was out there yesterday is a father or a mother,” he said, “and then to have to deal with that, it’s tough. But it doesn’t compare to what the family’s going through. Our hearts go out to them.”

Deputies say the call came in at 11:04 a.m. on Thursday morning. Capt. Douglas says 10-12 minutes after deputies received the call, all four victims were out of the water. Sadly, two children died later that day at the hospital. A third, just 1-year-old, died Friday.

Late Friday, authorities confirmed the victims were Jerome Gonzales (4-years-old), Jeremiah Gonzales (3-years-old) and Josiah Gonzales (1-year-old). A Go Fund Me page for the boys indicated Jerome and Jeremiah passed away Thursday, while Josiah passed away Friday.

Authorities said the retention pond was about 3-4 feet deep and frozen over with about a half-foot of ice at the time. Douglas, who was a member of the county dive team for 14-years, also said the visibility in the water was zero. The Sheriff’s Office also noted in a press release that all three children were wearing child approved safety seats at the time of the crash.

They’re now piecing together any evidence they can in what Douglas likened to a ‘big jigsaw puzzle,’ using some witness statements to gather how the car left the road in the first place.

“Another one is cameras, if there’s cameras there,” he added. “Vehicles, as you know, they have what you guys would call a black box. There’s impressions left on the roadway, there’s impressions left in the grass, marks on the vehicle.”

Capt. Douglas indicated they have no reason to believe this was anything more than a tragic accident. He said road conditions were not dangerous at the time of the crash. He has not spoken to the driver since the day of the crash.

“I haven’t talked to her today, so I couldn’t tell you how she is,” he said. “I’m sure, probably not very good. It’s a horrible situation and I wouldn’t even know where to begin saying how she’s feeling.”

If you’d like to donate to the family, you can find their Go Fund Me page by clicking here.