Mikaila and Maleah Rojas' grandfather says you were hard-pressed to ever find the two not smiling.
Sunday evening was no exception.
The girls and two of their best friends were riding with their grandmother down Havendale Boulevard in Auburndale to play in a relative's pool across town.
"They were excited to go, and they were singing and excited," said Loran Mercer, the girls' grandfather.
But the group's holiday weekend quickly turned tragic during that drive. A preliminary investigation by Polk County deputies showed a truck ran a red light and slammed into Linda Mercer's VW Beetle.
The accident killed 10-year-old Morgan Milligan and Mercer's granddaughter, Mikaila.
"She was always running and jumping," Mercer said. "She was a cheerleader and a softball player. She reached out with both arms."
Maleah, 8, was also in the backseat. She suffered a serious brain injury and is in intensive care at the hospital.
"Maleah is responding to touch and some voice," he said. "They're going to put a feeding tube in, which is a good thing because it shows we're moving in the right direction."
Deputies are still investigating the crash. Charges against the driver are still pending.
"He's got to be really hurting right now," Mercer said. "He caused the death of two little girls that are so precious."
The girls' family is trying to focus on the future. Their faith is getting them through this time of darkness.
"I don't think it's just Maleah's strong, because Maleah's strong," Mercer said. "Her mother's rubbing her arms saying, 'Come home.'"
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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