FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The holiday weekend has come and gone, but one family in Fort Collins can't bear to part ways.
"We're kind of huddling together," Alex Rangel said. "Just kind of leaning on each other.”
Rangel and his relatives need each other now more than ever. On Thanksgiving morning, Rangel lost three family members in a car crash on Interstate 70.
“We didn’t know what to do," Rangel said. "Emotions are flying. We just tried to be there for each other. We comforted each other. Said a prayer.”
On Tuesday, the family gathered inside the home belonging to Rangel's aunt, Elaine Lopez.
On Thanksgiving morning, Lopez and her sons, 27-year-old Dominic and 20-year-old Jonathan, left their home in Fort Collins to meet the rest of the family in Burlington.
“We kept calling, kept calling," Rangel said. "There was nothing, which was not like them."
Colorado State Patrol said the family was in a 2006 Ford SUV traveling eastbound near Genoa. At 10:50 a.m., the SUV went off the road, hit a sign, skidded, and rolled on the interstate, CSP said.
Lopez and her sons died in the crash. The driver of another SUV merging onto westbound I-70 had minor injuries.
Rangel said his grandparents were the first to be notified about the crash. He and the rest of the family learned the news from his uncles.
"It was hard, man," he said, his eyes filling with tears. "It was hard.”
Rangel said his aunt's home was often the site of Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas get-togethers.
"She was probably the most loving out of all of us," Rangel said. "She was the nicest person you could be."
Rangel reminisced about the good times he spent with his cousins, making hay bale forts and playing hide and go seek. He said his cousin, Dominic, was "goofy" and the kind of guy known to "photobomb" family photos. Rangel said he remembered Jonathan as a sweet kid who grew up to love playing video games and talking politics.
“They were fun to be around," Rangel said. "That’s for sure."
On Tuesday, photos of Elaine, Dominic and Jonathan covered tables inside the home in Fort Collins. A 4-month-old baby girl named Elaine cooed in her mother's arms.
“They named her after Elaine," Rangel said.
The youngest in the family never had a chance to meet her namesake and great aunt, but she'll hear stories about how much she was loved.
“We all loved them very much, and they loved us, too," Rangel said.
The family is planning services to lay three of their loved ones to rest. They created a GoFundMe to help cover the expenses.
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