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Community Rallies For Family Of Mom Who Died As Hero

Melissa Castillo DeLoatch was killed after being hit twice by a man angered after he was asked to quit smoking.
Melissa Castillo DeLoatch was killed after being hit twice by a man angered after he was asked to quit smoking. Photo Credit: Melissa DeLoatch

Maternal instinct is what saved Melissa DeLoatch's children. 

The mom -- reportedly several weeks pregnant with her seventh child -- threw herself in front of her 11-month-old baby's stroller when an aggressive driver careened twice into the Haverstraw family outside of a Garnersville 7-Eleven Wednesday.

All of DeLoatch's children lived, and she died a hero.

More than $17,800 had been raised for DeLoatch's family on a GoFundMe campaign as of Thursday evening.

Additional charges were filed Thursday against the man accused of intentionally driving his car twice into the family of eight.

The incident took place around 1:50 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, when Jason Mendez, 35, of Washingtonville in Orange County, drove his vehicle into the family standing in front of the store located on North Central Highway in Garnerville, killing 32-year-old Melissa Deloatch, said Haverstraw Police Capt. Martin Lund.

Witnesses and police said that Mendez had words with one of the adults about smoking in front of the children. Moments later, he got into his 2013 Infinity with Texas license tags and intentionally drove his vehicle across the parking lot and into the family standing on the sidewalk out front of the store.

He then backed up about 20 feet, put his car into drive, and drove over the family members a second time, according to the felony criminal complaint filed in court.

Police said when officers arrived on the scene they ordered Mendez out of the vehicle, which had plowed through the front of the building. When Mendez exited, he was brandishing a knife at officers, Lund said.

He was ordered to drop the knife numerous times and when he refused, the officers used a taser and took him into custody.

Mendez, who is being held at the Rockland County Jail, had been charged with murder and seven counts of attempted murder. On Thursday, police added the charges of menacing, criminal possession of a weapon (a knife), and resisting arrest.

The father, Sean Deloatch, 32, a 10-month-old baby, and five children ages 2, 3, 6, and two 10-year-olds were all treated for broken bones and other injuries.

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