Mother of Chapel Hill train crash victims speaks out

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – A grieving mother has spoken with WSMV4 for the first time after the loss of her three children who were killed in a September train crash in Chapel Hill, Tennessee.

Maria Celeste has 5 children and three of them; Duvraska, 22, Magyory, 25, and Jose, 29, are now gone, and it happened in one day.

“They were wonderful. For a mother, no child is bad,” said Maria Celeste in Spanish and translated by Carmen Garner.

A GoFundMe account raised enough money to bring Celeste from Venezuela to Tennessee to say goodbye to her children and help with funeral costs.

“A part of me died with them”, Celeste. said.

Celeste told WSMV 4’s Tosin Fakile that she started having children in her twenties. She is now 55 and preparing to enjoy having adult children.

“That was the plan, but everything changed overnight,” Celeste said.

Her three children were killed in late September on a Depot Street overpass when a train hit their car.

“Duvraska was working that day and she was delivered to Chapel Hill, Marshall County,” said Rocky McElhaney, a personal injury attorney representing Celeste. “She didn’t know where she was going so her siblings jumped in to accompany her.”

“They were so young. They have so much to live for,” Celeste said. “Maybe God wanted to bring them together. They wanted to be together, but it’s horrible pain,” she added.

The mother said her children came to America for a better life. His youngest Duvraska was a fighter.

“She said to me, ‘Mom, I’m leaving. Here in Venezuela, I can’t do anything. I want to study medicine,” Celeste said.

Celeste said Magyory was shy.

“She studied to be a chef in Venezuela. She loved pastries and baking. She decided she wanted to study in the United States,” Celeste said.

As for her son, she said Jose spoke to her on the phone every day.

“He was very spontaneous with a very big heart,” Celeste said.

At the time of the accident, local residents told WSMV 4 that the intersection was dangerous for drivers. Their mother hopes what happened to her children will help bring about change and possible legal action.

“What I really want is to honor my children and I want them to be the last to die there,” Celeste said. “I don’t want more people to die in this place because so many things are missing. No good signs.

Celeste’s lawyer agrees.

“What we want to convey to the community or to Chapel Hill is that help is on the way,” McElhaney said. We are going to do everything we can to not only protect this family, but to protect all families in Chapel Hill to make sure this intersection – this crossing – is changed.

For the mum who hadn’t seen two of her children in four months and her youngest in three years, she told WSM4’s Tosin Fakile what she wanted them to know.

“I miss them a lot. I want to go back in time to have them with me,” Celeste said. “I have five of them and I love them all, but the love for each one is different because each one is different, and I cry for each in a different way. The pain is the same, but I cry in different ways because the three are different.