Yesterday three Staten Island families were struck by tragedy when an SUV carrying seven people overturned on the Garden State Parkway. A 2003 Ford Expedition driven by Dimitrios "Jimmy" Iliopoulos, 54, "swerved and then smashed into a right-hand guardrail" and "overturned at least twice." Iliopoulos' sons Hlias, 18, and Chrystoph, 13, and their friend Eric Colligan, 15, were thrown from the SUV into the highway and died.
Iliopoulos's wife Stavroula, 51, and daughter Fontiny, 20, were also thrown from the vehicle while he and his daughter's fiance Vincent Whiteaker, 25, remained in the car. A neighbor told the Daily News, "It's a tragedy. I can't believe Jimmy has to bury his two sons." Whiteaker's grandfather said that Fontiny had a blood clot in her brain; his grandson was able to speak to her but didn't tell her that her brothers were killed yet.
Relatives said that Hilas Iliopoulos had just graduated from Fort Hamilton High School and was going to Apex Tech to learn to become a mechanic. Colligan, who was the family's neighbor, was remembered as a gifted athlete while Chrystoph Iliopoulos was "joined at the hip" with his mother. Dimitri Iliopoulos had owned a diner in Brooklyn and was opening one in New Jersey; a neighbor said they rarely took vacations, so the excursion to Atlantic City was unusual.