Friends remember a mother and son killed in Florida retention pond crash

Family friends of a mother and son killed in a retention pond crash spoke exclusively to FOX 35 News. They said the family of five had just gotten the keys to their new apartment when the crash happened.

"I thought she was going to make it because I know she’s a fighter. I knew she was a fighter, so I was like she’s going to be OK," said Cris Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has known Chelsea Hawk and her husband, Jared, since the late 1990s. In recent years, Chelsea had become one of her best friends.

"People get in car accidents all the time, and she’ll be OK. So it was hard hearing that we lost her," said Rodriguez.

On Sunday night, Chelsea, Jared, and their three children ages 13, 12, and 10 were on their way to their new home. They were driving southbound on Interstate 95 in Daytona Beach.

"They were in the process of moving when the accident happened," said Curtis Brown. "They had to live out of a hotel for a stretch – the same time that my ex-wife and I were homeless. It was one of the things that we had bonded over."

Somehow they lost control trying to get off the 260 A exit hitting a sign and going into the retention pond. Chelsea and their 12-year-old son, Xion, died at the hospital from their injuries. The accident is weighing heavily on Jared.

"He’s talking about how he didn’t have the strength he didn’t have the strength to get Xion out," said Rodriguez. "I just told him that during that time you’re in shock and as much as we want to have superhuman strength in situations like that we’re still human."

In the wake of the crash, people rallied around the family. The support for the GoFundMe page that friends created has blown them away.

"Watching people shower them with so much care and affection right now. It’s a tragedy but at least he’s not going through it alone," said Brown.

Friends also are reporting that Jared made the choice to donate Xion’s organs. In the last 24 hours, two children have been able to have lifesaving transplants because of that decision.