FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Five Fort Pierce families now share a bond they wish they never had to share.
They all lost a loved one in a fiery crash on Black Friday.
Friday night, members of the 5 families got together with law enforcement, and fire officials with hopes of sharing a strong message with the community.
Fort Pierce Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara, Fire Chief Nate Spera, and Mayor Linda Hudson joined the families.
They wanted the families to know their agencies are prepared to support them in whatever they might need moving forward.
Sitting in a circle, loved ones of each victim spoke about how treasured each person lost in the crash was.
“I’m so sorry to each and every one of you… if anyone understands what you’re going through, I do,” said Jimmy Paul.
Paul was best friends for 12 years with Kedan Tillett, the driver of the car that burst into flames after 21-year-old Tanner Dashner crashed into it, according to investigators.
“He’d give you the shirt off his back if he had to,” Paul said. Paul said Kedan loved cars and had a great sense of humor.
Lisan Douglas lost her younger brother Darien Douglas. Darien was the “typical middle child,” Lisan said.
She said she saw him on Thanksgiving and he was happy and laughing.
“We’re trying. We don’t even take it day by day, we take it minute by minute,” Lisan said.
Shameka Baker lost her daughter, Alexis Chaney, a sweet soul who liked to volunteer.
Shirley McCormick lost her nephew, Anthony Martin.
“He had a wonderful smile,” McCormick said. Martin was a talented bowler.
Anthony Victor’s family wasn’t able to make the meeting, having a tough and emotional day, but Lisan says her younger brother and Victor were close friends.
“Im sure that they were in the car laughing. Im sure they were making jokes. I believe they were happy,” Lisan hoped about the moments before the crash.
All of the families are trying to stay strong and have faith in the justice system.
They want the driver accused of causing the crash to be arrested, as crash reports indicate he is suspected of being intoxicated at the time of the crash.
Reports also say he was driving 97 mph in a 30 mph zone.
An attorney for the Chaney family, John Phillips, held a press conference this week asking for a speedier arrest.
“In a five fatality incident, 19 days is too slow,” Phillips said Wednesday.
Frustration surrounding the lack of an arrest, according to Sheriff Ken Mascara, might also be what is fueling threats toward fire fighters.
“Hurting anyone else isn’t helping anyone. The way I feel no one else needs to feel this way,” Lisan said.
The sheriff Friday told the families that a speedy arrest might not always mean they get the most justice. He explained once an arrest is made, speedy trial could prevent all of the evidence from being prepared before trial.
Knowing that, families urge the community to have patience, just like they are trying to.
“Let’s just be patient, and wait. That's all we can do. Be patient and pray,” Paul said.
Most importantly, they want to send a strong message to the community.
“Stop drinking and driving. We have Lyft. We have Uber. Call a taxi. Call a friend. Take someone’s keys,” Lisan said.
HOW YOU CAN HELP THE FAMILIES: Kedan Tillett leaves behind three children. Some families are using Christmas money to pay for funerals. Some of the victims contributed financially to their families, who will now be losing that support. Scott Van Duzer is hosting a fundraiser Wednesday, December 19, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce. All proceeds will go to the families.