Pensacola woman grieves two more wrongful deaths in her family

This week, the Pensacola News Journal profiled a Pensacola woman whose story truly illustrates the tragedy of wrongful deaths from car accidents on Florida’s and the nation’s roadways. Sunday’s head-on collision on Blue Angel Parkway cost 55-year-old Denise Holmes her granddaughter and a girl she considered family.

Sadly, Holmes has been through this before. She has already lost her son, a son-in-law and a nephew to fatal car accidents.

“I have always been a very strong person because I don’t lose my faith,” Holmes told reporter Thyrie Bland. “I have to put it in God’s hands, or I won’t be able to function.”

Head-on collision on Blue Angel Parkway kills two, seriously injures two

Just before 2:30 a.m. on February 13, a 22-year-old woman was driving a Buick Regal along Blue Angel Parkway. In the car with her were Denise Holmes’s 16-year-old granddaughter and the teen’s 18-year-old cousin, who had been staying at the older girl’s apartment for the weekend, which they often did. The 22-year-old had been out with a friend and, on her way to drop off that friend, she picked up the cousins to take them to Holmes’s house, where they lived.

She stopped in the left-turn lane from Blue Angel Parkway to southbound Cerny Road. Suddenly, a pickup driven by a 23-year-old Alabama man crossed the center line and rammed head-on into the Buick the girls were riding in.

The 22-year-old driver and Holmes’s granddaughter were killed. The 18-year-old cousin was seriously injured.

The pickup overturned, and the wrong-way driver was thrown from the truck. He was critically injured in the wreck. None of the four victims had been wearing a seat belt.

Sunday’s wreck only added to the toll of wrongful death on local family

Although the 22-year-old driver was a family friend, Holmes had known her for a long time. She had baby-sat the girl when she was a child, and she was close friends with her granddaughter and grand-niece.

“She wasn’t my biological granddaughter, but we were family,” Holmes said.

In addition to those two losses, Holmes has been faced with fatal accidents three other times. The father of the granddaughter killed in Sunday’s wreck was himself killed in a single-vehicle accident in 2003. He was 24. The driver was a family friend, whom Holmes also considers a part of her family.

In 2008, Holmes’s 30-year-old son-in-law was killed in a pedestrian accident. He had been trying to cross the intersection of Ninth and Langley avenues.

Two years ago, Holmes’s nephew was killed in a fatal car accident in Virginia Beach.

How does one go on after such a string of tragic accidents?

“I know they would want me to go on because there are other people in this family, and there are other kids in this family,” Holmes explained. “I am the root of my family. I have to hold these people together, and I do so through the help of God.”

Source: Pensacola News Journal, “Another crash tears at Pensacola family,” Thyrie Bland, February 15, 2011