THREE TEENS DEAD, FOUR WOUNDED WHEN STATEN ISLAND FAMILY'S SUV OVERTURNED OF GARDEN STATE PKWY





Three Staten Island teens - two of them brothers - died Monday when a family's Atlantic City holiday outing ended in a tragic accident on the Garden State Parkway.

Three others - the brothers' parents and sister - were critically injured when the family SUV overturned in the horrific crash, the New Jersey State Police said. A fourth man, the sister's fiancé, had only minor injuries.

The accident occurred about 5 a.m. when Dimitrios (Jimmy) Iliopoulos, 54, lost control of his Ford Expedition in the highway's northbound express lane, near Middletown Township, N.J., cops said.

Iliopoulos, owner of a New Jersey diner, swerved and then smashed into a right-hand guardrail, cops said. The SUV overturned at least twice, tossing five passengers from the backseat onto the highway's center median and local lanes, cops said.

Killed were the driver's sons, Chrystoph and Hlimas (Elias) Iliopoulos, ages 14 and 18, as well as Eric Colligan, 15, a neighbor, relatives and the police said.

Dimitrios Iliopoulos, who once owned a diner in Brooklyn, was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, cops said.

Also clinging to life at the hospital were his wife, Stavroula Iliopoulos, 51, and their daughter, Fotiny, 20, who was soon to be married.

"It's a tragedy," said Mario Dicroccio, 75, a neighbor in Grant City, S.I. "I can't believe Jimmy has to bury his two sons."

Fotiny's fiancé, Vincent Whiteaker, 25, also of Staten Island, was treated and released, said his grandfather Robert Whiteaker.

Robert Whiteaker said his future daughter-in-law, Fotiny, was battling for her life with a blood clot on the brain.Vincent Whiteaker was able to speak with her but was withholding the heartbreaking news that her two brothers had died, Robert Whiteaker said.

Elias, who had just earned his diploma two weeks ago from Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn, was to begin studying mechanical engineering at Apex Technical School in the fall, neighbors said. He loved the Yankees and went by the nickname "Jeter," they said.

Eric Colligan had just wrapped up his first season on Curtis High School's varsity baseball team.

"Eric was like a son to me. I pretty much raised that kid," said a distraught Brian Colligan, 48, Eric's uncle.

The family was returning from an all-night gambling trip to Atlantic City, Robert Whiteaker said.

"He was saying someone cut them off," he related of his grandson's account. "Next thing, the car went out of control."

"They were a close-knit family. They were together all the time," said Manny Rivera, a neighbor. "I would see the mother walk the kids to the bus stop all the time. ... It's absolutely heartbreaking."

SOURCE:: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/07/04/2011-07-04_three_teens_dead_four_wounded_when_staten_island_familys_suv_overturned_on_garde.html#ixzz1REKl8HDP

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