PALM HARBOR, Fla. — A mother of five children in Florida was tragically killed in a blaze when a vehicle backed into a gas station pump, causing it to upend on her and burst into flames. The freak accident occurred in front of two of her kids who were inside the vehicle.
Shoi Caballes was refueling her 2018 Honda SUV at a Shell gas station in Palm Harbor about 2 p.m. Wednesday. The horrific death occurred when another woman backed her 2006 Nissan sedan into the pump causing it to overturn, WFLA reported.
The gas pump fell onto Caballes and pinned her between it and her vehicle. Suddenly the area “erupted in flames,” troopers told the news outlet.
Caballes’s five children range in age from elementary school to college. Making the tragedy even worse was that two of her children — an 11-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl — were with her at the time of her death, the New York Post reported.
Shoi Caballes (second from left)) was filling her car with gas when another vehicle backed into the pump. (Facebook/Germel Caballes)
Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins said the children jumped out of the vehicle in an effort to save their mother. But their desperation simply imperiled their own safety.
A citizen ran over and pulled the children to safety when he witnessed them trying to extinguish the flames with an inadequate fire extinguisher.
“Apparently she was pinned against the gas tank – the gas pump – and her vehicle,” witness Jared Pierson told WFLA.
“By the time I was crossing the street, it was all a giant fireball. All I could do was pull the kids away and we all had to go across the way because I thought the gas station was gonna go up in flames,” he said.
“The kids wouldn’t leave my side and my buddy’s side, so we let them sit with our bum gear, and that’s when we found out their mom was trapped in the car,” according to Pierson.
Two of Shoi Delfin-Caballes’ children were in the car when the tragedy occurred. (Florida Highway Patrol)
“I’m just relieved that the babies didn’t get hurt, and if I would’ve known – you always say the what ifs and all that, you know,” Pierson told the station.
“I just wish I would have known earlier where the mom was. If I would have known the mom was pinned there, something would have been different. I couldn’t find the mom. That’s what really hurts,” he added.
Hundreds of people attended a prayer service for Caballes in Tarpon Springs, Florida. (Facebook/Germel Caballes)
Officers did not believe the Nissan driver was impaired and will not face criminal charges, a police spokesperson told WFLA.
According to the Post, hundreds of people attended a prayer service Thursday night for Caballes at St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish in Tarpon Springs.
“To honor my mom, we ask you to wear a form of White and Blue, those were some of her favorite colors,” one of her sons wrote on Facebook. “My mommy was never a fan of the all black.”