Family ripped apart by DUI crash that killed father and daughter

Reporter: Jolena Esperto
Published: Updated:

A father and his 3-year-old daughter were killed in a crash just days before Christmas. Family friends said the mother and two other children are in the hospital with serious injuries. The friends also said that both the mother’s legs are broken.

WINK spoke with one friend who was collecting Christmas gifts for the two young children in the hospital after this crash.

He said Manny was like a brother to him, and he still can’t believe what happened.

“Due to those heartbreaking circumstances, Francesca is physically unable to work and must continue to take care of her two children on her own,” said Carmen Mendes, a family friend.

Emmanuel Pula and his 3-year-old daughter Emma were killed in a car crash Sunday night when 22-year-old Pedro Alvarado slammed into the family’s car, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Crash investigators said Alvarado crossed over a paved median and slammed into the family’s car head-on while driving drunk.

“A friend lost her 3-year-old daughter, Emma, and her husband, Manuel Pula. Currently, Francesca suffers severe injuries herself [and] injuries to her two other children, 2-year-old EJ and 7-year-old Ava. There’s a long healing journey ahead of this family, not only physically but mentally and emotionally,” Mendes said.

Friends said Manny was a family man. His world revolved around his wife and children,
and he worked hard to take care of them.

In several family photos, you can see Manny holding his daughter ema. A family friend said they’re together, and he believes they will always be.

WINK spoke with Manny’s father, who is out of state, by phone. He said he just visited his son over the weekend to see a baseball game with the family.

Now, he is in a state of shock, and it’s clear this community cared for this family greatly. They held a vigil at the area of the crash on Bayshore Road, and several people are still adding to the memorial.

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