NYACK, Rockland County (WABC) -- Family and friends gathered Thursday to bid a final farewell to a pregnant mother of six who was killed when her family was run over -- allegedly on purpose -- outside a New York convenience store.
Funeral services were held in Nyack for 32-year-old Melissa Castillo DeLoatch, who family members say threw herself in front of a stroller as a suspect intentionally drove into the family twice in the parking lot of a Haverstraw 7-Eleven.
She was known for her kindness and generous spirit, and her brother, Ryan Christopher, described her as "the most caring person in the world."
The suspect, 35-year-old Jason Mendez, is charged with second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder, as well as other charges, after police say he became enraged when DeLoatch's husband asked him to stop smoking in front of the children.
Mendez allegedly got into his car and plowed into the business, striking all eight family members, before backing up and driving forward into them again.
The father was also seriously injured, as were three children ages 3, 2 and 11 months. The 2-year-old was the most seriously injured and suffered a broken leg and internal injuries, but all four are expected to survive.
The older three children, ages 10, 7 and 5, were also hospitalized, but none of the injuries are considered life-threatening.
"Melissa was not only my daughter, but she was also my best friend," mom Joan Christopher said last week. "To deliberately run somebody over, not once, but twice, and in front of your children, and try to kill my grandkids, and her husband. They didn't do nothing to them."
Christopher said her daughter died a hero, trying to protect her children.
"She took and threw herself in front of the stroller, in front of the car," she said. "So she threw herself to protect her babies."
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