Pregnant Florida woman, 27, dies in car accident Baby saved, driver charged with DUI manslaughter


A soon-to-be mom’s life was cut short in a fatal car accident, but doctors were able to save her unborn child while her boyfriend, who was behind the wheel during the crash, is facing manslaughter charges.

Vanessa Schmurr-Smith, 27, died June 18 after her boyfriend, 41-year-old Mario Charles Gonzalez, swerved to avoid traffic, lost control of his vehicle in Brandon, Florida, and ended up colliding with a tractor-trailer.  

Schmurr-Smith, who was not wearing a seat belt in the passenger seat, was ejected from the vehicle. 

She was taken to a local hospital, and within 45 minutes of the accident, underwent an emergency C-section and died. 

Vanessa Schmurr-Smith, 27, died in June after her boyfriend, Mario Charles Gonzalez lost control of his car which ended up colliding with a tractor-trailer

Doctors were able to save her baby, Van Brian Smith, (pictured) who is currently in intensive care and will be raised by Vanessa's father, Tom Smith

Doctors were able to save her baby, Van Brian Smith, (pictured) who is currently in intensive care and will be raised by Vanessa’s father, Tom Smith

But doctors were able to save her baby, Van Brian Smith, who is currently in intensive care. 

The 27-year-old had not picked a name for her son, so her father, Tom Smith, 69, chose one. 

Smith’s inspiration for his new grandson’s name came from a few sources, namely musicians who the father-daughter duo loved.

Van is a nod to rock singers Van Morrison, Eddie ‘Van’ Halen, Ronnie ‘Van’ Zant, and of course, his mother Vanessa. 

‘He’s gonna be a rock star,’ Smith, 69, told the Tampa Bay Times

His middle name is inspired by Vanessa’s late brother, Brian.  

For now, Smith will raise him, for what he hopes is at least the first few years of his life. After that, he said he would like to see Van grow up on his brother’s 40-acre horse ranch in Nevada, tampabay.com reported.  

But first he is awaiting the results of a paternity test to determine if Schmurr-Smith’s 41-year-old boyfriend is the biological father.  

Gonzalez, who was behind the wheel at the time of the crash, is facing DUI manslaughter charges for the fatal accident. 

'She was more than my daughter. She was my best friend,' 69-year-old Tom Smith said about his relationship with Vanessa (pictured together)

‘She was more than my daughter. She was my best friend,’ 69-year-old Tom Smith said about his relationship with Vanessa (pictured together) 

41-year-old Mario Charles Gonzalez (pictured) is facing DUI manslaughter charges for the fatal accident

41-year-old Mario Charles Gonzalez (pictured) is facing DUI manslaughter charges for the fatal accident

After the pickup truck flipped end-over-end, witnesses saw him crawl out from the same window where Schmurr-Smith was ejected, the arrest report said.

At the scene, witnesses said Gonzalez claimed his brakes went out, and when Florida Highway Patrol troopers arrived at the scene they found Gonzalez sitting against the concrete barrier asleep. 

The arrest report said when he awoke troopers noticed his speech was slurred, he had glassy eyes and was rocking back and forth.

He gave troopers conflicting accounts of the accident- first saying that he was in the passenger seat at the time of the crash and later that he was in the middle seat, tampabay.com reported. 

Gonzalez also failed a series of sobriety tests and after testing Gonzalez’s blood, troopers arrested him for second-degree DUI manslaughter. 

He was released days later after posting $25,000 bail, tampabay.com reported.  

For now Schmurr-Smith’s loved ones are trying to move past the tragedy. 

Her father told tampabay.com that it’s a huge loss. Following the deaths of her mother to breast cancer in 2010 and her brother Brian eight years ago, the 27-year-old moved in with her father in a double-wide mobile home in Wesley Chapel. 

‘She was more than my daughter. She was my best friend,’ Smith said.  

She had spent the last five years working as an office manager at an air conditioning company.

Friends and family recently launched a GoFundMe to cover ‘medical, funeral and baby expenses’ that has raised a few hundred dollars.  

According to the fundraiser, her son, who was born 2 and a half months early, is currently in the PICU ‘fighting for his own life.’

An obituary, which used her nickname ‘Nessa’, said she was a ‘strong’ and ‘amazing’ person.  

‘Nessa was a sweet caring person who loved Nascar and listening to music,’ it read.  ‘She loved her friends and family with her whole heart. She lost her mother to cancer at a young age and lost her older brother shortly after and it only made her stronger. Nothing could stand in her way. Nessa was an amazing person and will be missed dearly.’



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