TRAGEDY: Tampa man lost wife, 2 children, in horrific crash that killed 5

Image: FHP

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The heartache of losing a loved one in a sudden, unexpected moment is devastating.

The shock is jarring and confusing. Families and friends are left with broken hearts and aching spirits. Losing one person is painful. But, for a Tampa husband, the grief is paralyzing and unbearable.

On Wednesday night, John Bernal lost his wife, his youngest daughter and his youngest son in a horrific car accident on MLK.

Mother Marianela Murillo and her two youngest children, John Bernal, Jr.  and Isabell Bernal, along with her teenager, Lina Bernal, were returning home from church when they were hit head-on in a fiery crash.

Their minivan burst into flames with the family trapped inside. The teenage daughter and her cousin visiting from Colombia, Luisa Louisa, were the only ones to survive in that van.

A relative began sobbing as she recalled the events while speaking to WFLA at Tampa General Hospital.

“My biggest thing is, I hope they didn’t suffer,” Gisela Martinez cried. “The car did catch on fire, and there were children in that car.”

While eyewitnesses claim it was street racing, the Florida Highway Patrol says there’s no evidence to prove it.

However, troopers say that the young man who caused the accident, 22-year-old Pablo Cortes III, was traveling at a high rate of speed when he lost control of his Volkswagen Golf. Both he and his passenger, Jolie Bartolome, were killed.

Family members are heartbroken and their hearts go out to the husband who lost his wife and two children.

“He’s suffering right now. He’s in pieces. I don’t wish this upon anybody at all. I mean, he is really in pieces,” said Mizrah Medina, a cousin. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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