Losing a child is the biggest tragedy and most intense grief a human being can feel. No words can describe the pain a mother suffers when she loses her kid, let alone all three of them.
Back in 2015, on September 27, Jennifer Neville-Lake sent her three children Daniel, 9; Harry, 5, and Milly, 2, to their grandmother’s house, which was about 45 minutes away from their house.
Yet, instead of welcoming them back a bit later, she watched a news report that changed her life forever. As her parents were running late, she was getting annoyed, and she tried calling them. Yet. As no one replied, she “I flipped on the news and saw the crash” and said, “That’s my van.’”
Her nightmare began.
Daniel died that day and the two other kids died the next day after being taken to the hospital. Her father, Gary Neville, also died in the crash. Only her mother, Neriza Neville, and the kids’ great-grandmother, Josefina Frias, survived.
Jennifer remembers that she was shocked because she lost all her kids in an instant. She could not believe that her “whole family has been taken.”
It was reported that the drunk driver, Marco Muzzo, was running from a bachelor’s party in Miami and had a blood-alcohol level over twice the legal limit. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in 2016.
It was reported that, in April 2020, he was granted day parole, but denied full parole. Jennifer is an incredibly bold and courageous woman, and ever since the tragedy, she has been working to raise awareness against drunk driving ever since.
She says she hopes that by sharing her reality, and “seeing and reading her pain” can persuade people to make better choices.
She often receives emails, messages, and phone calls from people who support her attempt to point out the potential devastating consequences of that practice.
She explains that she does it all“ in the hopes that no one else has to hold all their children’s birth certificates in their hands for their 40th birthday like I did this year.”
She shared a moving photo on Facebook, showing her children’s lunchboxes resting on top of their tombs, and it broke thousands of hearts.
“Grade 8. Grade 4. Grade 2. Or rather, should be!
These were their lunch bags for their 2015 school year. Milly’s was designed by her Kuya’s-they worked together to make it for her whilst she sat on my lap and tried to grab her Kuya Harry’s hair. His hair was getting long and she liked to pull it bc he would squeal. The boys took their lunch bags to school and Milly took hers to her music class and when she would spend Fridays with my dad.
Our family’s first day of school because of a drunk driver.”
Jennifer claims she wants to help other parents to never go through the same thing.
“Your choices become actions that have consequences…I will never, ever get to watch, participate in and with, enjoy, celebrate, cry with, learn with, grow with, be with any of my children again because of another adult’s decision to drive drunk.”
To honor her children and her father, Jennifer founded the Many Hands, Doing Good non-profit to support children who have experienced trauma through the arts.