PALMETTO, Fla. (AP) — When a horrific boom ripped Cristian Carlos out of a deep sleep early Wednesday, he wasn’t sure what to think.
“It was like a big explosion,” he said. “It moved the whole trailer.”
He ran outside, screaming, and saw the unthinkable: An SUV had plowed into the family’s storage shed, killing Carlos’ brother and his pregnant girlfriend. The couple had been using the shed outside the mobile home as a makeshift bedroom, sleeping inside on a mattress and hoping to save money, Carlos said.
“I was calling for him,” Carlos said as he paused from clearing debris from the wreck. “I tried to bring him back to life.”
Carlos said his brother, Ivan Carlos, was a 21-year-old barber and construction worker who grew up in Manatee County, a suburban area between Tampa and Sarasota. Ivan’s girlfriend, Brenda Avilez, 18, was nine months pregnant, Carlos and police said. The fetus also died.
The pair had just come to stay at the Lone Oak Mobile Home Park about three weeks ago, Carlos said, and had planned to move out soon.
Carlos’ entire family — about eight people — own the small, lime-green mobile home. The park has about 134 trailer homes packed on the property, mostly working-class families and a handful of retirees.
The Carlos family home is in a row of trailers closest to a busy road. Park owner Chrissy Jackson said that she’s owned the property since 2010 and that Wednesday’s crash was a first — no one had ever hit a building or even the park’s fence before.
“It’s just horrible,” Jackson said.
Palmetto police Chief Scott Tyler grimaced Wednesday as he looked at the twisted metal of what was once the shed.
“I’ve worked at the Palmetto Police Department for 20 years, and we’ve never had a crash like this,” he said.
The Chevrolet SUV had been heading north on the main road — U.S. 41 — when it crossed the median into the southbound lanes and crashed through the fence along the east side of the mobile home park.
Carlos said he noticed that the driver was dazed and “didn’t know what was going on” after the crash.
The impact sent Ivan Carlos and Alvilez into the carport area of the next-door mobile home.
The SUV driver, 35-year-old Christian Crawford of Bradenton, was taken to a local hospital with injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening.
Officials said he consented to drug and alcohol tests.
On Wednesday, as the Carlos family picked up debris, a mattress and a flat screen television sat in the driveway, and the white SUV was towed away.