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‘Now they’re with God’: Family killed in I-75 crash mourned

Four people who died in December were all related.
 
From left: Elizabeth Resendiz, Oscar Gonzalez and their son Uzziel. The family members died on Dec. 27, 2023, in a two-vehicle collision along Interstate 75 near the Selmon Expressway. The boy's cousin, Abraham, died the next day.
From left: Elizabeth Resendiz, Oscar Gonzalez and their son Uzziel. The family members died on Dec. 27, 2023, in a two-vehicle collision along Interstate 75 near the Selmon Expressway. The boy's cousin, Abraham, died the next day. [ Courtesy of A. Resendiz ]
Published Jan. 22

Oscar Gonzalez was known as a hardworking husband and father of three. His wife, Elizabeth Resendiz, was always willing to help others and played a vital role in bringing loved ones together. Those who knew the couple called her the “heart of the family.”

The Mexican couple died in an Interstate 75 crash near the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in late December, along with one of their sons and the boy’s cousin, who was visiting from out of state. The news rocked the Hispanic community in Clearwater that had welcomed the family.

“They were very generous,” said Jesus Gonzalez, a close friend. “Oscar was always happy and optimistic, and his wife was a good person. They love their kids.”

Details of the crash and the circumstances were investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol. The Dec. 27 crash occurred just after 3 p.m. on the north side of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway interchange near Brandon when Oscar Gonzalez attempted to change lanes. That’s when he collided with another pickup.

Investigators survey the scene after a two-vehicle crash killed three people along I-75 near the Selmon Expressway on Dec. 27, 2023, in Brandon. A fourth person died the next day.
Investigators survey the scene after a two-vehicle crash killed three people along I-75 near the Selmon Expressway on Dec. 27, 2023, in Brandon. A fourth person died the next day. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Oscar Gonzalez, 36, was driving a four-door Ford pickup. His wife, Elizabeth, 34, and their son Uzziel, 12; along with his cousin Abraham Gonzalez, 14, were all in the vehicle with him.

Gonzalez’s truck overturned and all occupants were ejected. None of them wore a seat belt. The immediate family members died at the scene due to fatal injuries. Abraham passed away a day later.

The second pickup came to a stop in the inside emergency lane. The 30-year-old driver and two children riding with him, ages 4 and 3, were not injured.

On a recent Saturday, dozens of friends and family members of the victims attended Mass at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clearwater. The service was livestreamed on Facebook, allowing people in other states, such as Arkansas and Texas, where the couple had friends, to watch it.

Elizabeth Resendiz, 34, and Oscar Gonzalez, 36, were a Mexican couple who worked in construction.
Elizabeth Resendiz, 34, and Oscar Gonzalez, 36, were a Mexican couple who worked in construction. [ Courtesy of Liliana Perez ]

Among those attending was Angeles Resendiz, Elizabeth’s sister.

“I thank God for lending me my sister. Elizabeth was very special to me,” she said during the service. “We are five siblings, and she was the fourth. Elizabeth always took care of me and stood by my side. I will miss her very much.”

Oscar’s mother, Paula Bautista, said that her son made sure she had everything she needed.

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“I will miss his hugs and kisses. Now I will fight for my two grandchildren who were left to me,” she said. “I will give it my all as long as God lends me life.”

Liliana Pérez, a local construction instructor, told the Times that the couple tried to provide the best for their children. She said they were always very polite and never forgot their responsibilities. They worked in construction, specializing in drywall installation.

“I met them on three different occasions; the last one was three months ago. She was a bit quiet but very hardworking and he made us laugh,” Perez said. “I remember the last day we worked together, we were all hungry, and Oscar took out cookies and shared them with everyone.”

A GoFundMe campaign created by friends had raised over $8,000 of a $45,000 goal to repatriate the Gonzalez-Resendizes to Mexico, pay for the funeral expenses and provide financial support for the children who were left without their parents: Neymar, 8, and Oscar Jureem, 15. The family of the fourth victim decided that he would be buried in Texas, where the parents live, according to Omar Becerril, spokesperson of the Mexican consulate in Orlando.

Becerril expressed sorrow and said he and others would support the families during these difficult times. The consulate can contribute $1,000 if the family does not have enough money and help with other arrangements for the preparation and disposition of the remains.

Nazareth Gonzalez, Oscar’s older sister, said her brother enjoyed helping others and loved every person he met in his life. For him, his family was everything.

“He always called us, and gave us a lot of his affection,” she said. “I hold onto that because my brother was a great example. This is how I want to honor his life.”

Abraham Gonzalez, 14, was visiting from out of state.
Abraham Gonzalez, 14, was visiting from out of state. [ Facebook ]

She also remembered Elizabeth, her sister-in-law, as very affectionate and helpful. She described her nephew Uzziel and Abraham as angels, who were very affectionate and funny. Abraham is survived by his parents, Mercedes and Horacio Gonzalez, and three brothers in Hillsboro, Texas: Miguel, 19, Horacio Jr., 16, and Fernando, 10.

“Now they are with God,” Nazareth Gonzalez said. “I have no doubt about that.”