OAKLAND, Calif. — From the privacy of their bedrooms to the public bustle of busy hospital wards, families and friends Tuesday struggled with the heartbreak of losing five loved ones, all nurses, who died Saturday in a burning limousine.
Outside the Fruitvale HealthCare Center, the medical center where all nine met and became fast friends, nurse Medhanit Kahassai ran sobbing out the door into the parking lot on Tuesday, overwhelmed with grief as flowers piled up in their break room.
"It's hard today," she said. "I thought it would get better today. It's not."
Dozens of "rest in peace" and "heartfelt condolences" messages poured into the women's Facebook sites.
Four passengers and the driver survived Saturday night's deadly inferno that erupted as the women headed into San Francisco to celebrate the nuptials of Neriza Fojas, who died in the blaze.
The cause of the fire, captured on camera as a blast of flames at the back of the white stretch limo, is under investigation.
Fojas, 31, and another victim Michelle Estrera, 35, were both nurses at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.
Victims Jennifer Balon, a 39-year-old mother of two, and Anna Alcantara, 46, both worked at Fruitvale, while Felomina Geronga, 43, also a mother of two had been working at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland.
John Balon, whose wife Jennifer went by the nickname Jenni, told the San Francisco Chronicle that their 10-year-old daughter Jillian cries for her mother at night and is working on paintings to give her for Mother's Day. His daughter and 1-year-old son are still looking for their mother, he said.
He told his daughter that she is in heaven.
"I told her mom doesn't want us to worry a lot," he told the Chronicle. "She is happy there. She won't be happy if we worry."
- Two Christian ministers refuse to perform...
- California orders churches, others to pay for...
- 2 dead in shooting attack at Canada's Parliament
- Government ups air bag warning to 7.8M vehicles
- Inspector: 'Serious lapse' at Secret Service
- Wyoming prepares to legalize same-sex marriage
- Shots ring out at Canada's Parliament
- Bishops scrap welcome to gays in sign of split
- Two Christian ministers refuse to... 111
- New Ebola 'czar' knows Washington, but... 23
- Wyoming prepares to legalize same-sex... 22
- On campaign trail, Obama says GOP is... 16
- California orders churches, others to... 16
- Bishops scrap welcome to gays in sign... 10
- Expelled Nazis got millions in Social... 10
- At rallies, Obama casts 2014 as key for... 8