A U.S. Army major and former Jersey City resident was killed Saturday in a horrific car crash that claimed the lives of his two young daughters.
Agustin “Augie” Gonzalez, 36, a former football and baseball player at St. Peter’s Prep, was driving southbound on I-65 in Hart County, Kentucky when he struck a tow truck stopped on the side of the road shortly before 8 p.m.. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
His two daughters, Noelle, 6, and Gwen, 2, were taken to nearby hospitals but died after succumbing to their injuries.
His 8-year-old son Nick was also in the vehicle but survived the crash. He was taken to Hardin Memorial Hospital and treated for minor injuries.
The four were heading to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs as part of the family’s move from their home in Cary, North Carolina. Gonzalez’s wife Melissa and their newborn son were on a flight to Colorado when the crash occurred.
A GoFundMe page, which provided an account of the fatal collision, has been created to help the surviving family members. The page raised more than $68,000 from more than 1,110 people within its first 24 hours. Anyone wishing to donate can do so here.
Gonzalez recently earned his masters degree in public policy from Duke University through the Downing Scholars Program, a West Point initiative hat selects four to six Army officers each year to attend graduate school at elite institutions throughout the country. Upon finishing their degrees, the officers return to active duty.
“All the members of the Sanford community are greatly saddened by the tragic news of the passing of Augie Gonzalez and his two precious daughters,” Judith Kelley, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, said in a Facebook post. “Augie was an exemplary student, deeply engaged with life in our school, and it was with great pride that we congratulated him and his family on his graduation just two weeks ago when he was accompanied by his wife Melissa and their children. Our thoughts go out to his family during this trying time.”
Gonzalez graduated from Rutgers University in 2006 with a degree in criminal justice and sociology.
Upon entering the military, he was stationed at a number of military installations throughout the country, including Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Knox in Kentucky.
Gonzalez was deployed four times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Resolute Support, a NATO mission. He was also deployed to the Republic of Korea as the commander of a special operations task force.
He earned a handful of military honors during his tenure, including the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Joint Service Commendation Medal, among others.
Friends, family members, and strangers alike offered condolences for the Gonzalez family on the GoFundMe page.
“We are heartbroken to hear of this,” one commenter wrote. “Our son John was to start working with the Major at Ft Carson. We will pray for your beautiful family.”
“I knew Augie at Prep, he was a great person and this loss will reverberate through all the communities that he was a member of,” John Hanlon wrote.
© 2019 The Jersey Journal, Secaucus, N.J.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.