The crash that took Hilo resident Christina Lopez Flores’ only daughter is essentially giving her another.
Thirty-two-year-old Crystal Marie Mercado-Lopez was killed Friday in a traffic collision in Volcano on Hawaii island, but her 8-month-old daughter, Kilikina, survived.
“The baby is OK,” Flores said today. “No injuries. They took X-rays. She’s doing real fine. I called again this morning. She’s eating. She’s doing OK.”
Lopez Flores, 58, said Child Welfare Services contacted her and told her they would release the child to her on Monday.
She plans to take custody of her granddaughter and raise her as her own. Lopez Flores will also take care of Mercado-Lopez’s 12-year-old son, Christian.
Hawaii County police said Mercado-Lopez was driving a small sedan on Highway 11 when it was struck by a truck. The infant was in a car seat at the time of the collision and taken to a local hospital.
The driver of the truck was uninjured. Police are continuing their investigation into the accident to determine the cause.
After the accident, Lopez Flores said, authorities were unable to immediately reach her because she was in town.
“They closed the roads, and I didn’t think it was her,” she said. “When we got home I found out it was her.”
She added, “She’s my only daughter. I have three boys.”
“It’s a very sad situation,” said Chandra Olivera, a cashier at the Keaau Shell Food Mart who worked with Mercado-Lopez until she left a few months ago.“The cutest baby ever, promise to God. … Every time she came in, I had to hold her.”
“Hopefully, Crystal’s mom gets the baby,” she said. “I think that’s the best.”
Olivera said of her: “I thought she was a fun person, a good-hearted person.
“We’re going to miss her,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion.