(WXYZ) — A community is stunned and heartbroken, mourning the loss of a metro Detroit family of five, including three children, killed in a wrong-way crash in Kentucky over the weekend.
The Abbas family was driving home from vacationing in Florida early Sunday morning when the vehicle they were driving in was struck by a wrong-way driver around 2:30 a.m. According to the Lexington Police Department, a white pickup truck was traveling in the wrong direction in the northbound lanes of I-75 when it hit an SUV straight-on. The SUV then caught fire.
Inside the SUV was Issam Abbas, 42; Rima Abbas, 38; Ali Abbas, 14; Isabella Abbas, 13; and Giselle Abbas, 7. Police say the driver of the pickup was 41-year-old Joey Lee Bailey of Georgetown, Kentucky. All six died in the crash.
"We don't know how to feel, we don't know how to express it, it took us by surprise," said Hassan Abbas, the great uncle of Issam.
“See, this tragedy is not only us now, for the family – it is for the whole community and for humanity too, because anybody (who) can hear about this tragedy is going to feel it," he added.
Rana Abbas Taylor lost her only sister, Rima, in the crash. She says Rima was the backbone of the family.
Rana says just before Christmas their grandmother passed away. Rima and her family canceled their trip to Florida but rescheduled last minute.
"I just needed somebody with me and my mom, just to deal with my grandmother's passing, but I didn’t want to have her feel guilty so I just didn’t say anything to her. I do wish I had, maybe she would have stayed,” Rana said.
Sam Reda has been best friends with Issam since high school. He says the hardest part will be telling their children, who used to play with the Abbas children.
“It’s going to be difficult adjusting, it's going to be difficult telling the kids that there friends are no longer around," Reda said. "Telling my son that he can't see his friend or play basketball or play video games together; telling my daughter that she isn’t going to be able to see her friend anymore, that is the most difficult part over anything else."
Northville schools are offering counselors at school on Monday, and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans posted on Facebook, "My family's thoughts and prayers are with the Abbas family's loved ones."
Thousands of others took to social media to express their grief and offer up prayers for the Abbas' family and friends.
A vigil for the family is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. Services will be held Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Islamic Center of America, and the family will be buried at noon Tuesday at Islamic Memorial Gardens in Westland. Commemoration services will be conducted Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Islamic Center of America.
Anyone with information on the crash is asked to contact the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 859-258-3663. Anonymous tips, photos and videos can be sent by texting LEXPD plus the tip to CRIMES (274637). Additionally, information can be sent anonymously trough Bluegrass Crime Stoppers at 859-253-2020 or www.bluegrasscrimestoppers.com.
Rima Abbas was a doctor at Beaumont Medical Center in Garden City. Beaumont responded to the tragedy with the following quote:
"We are devastated by the tragic loss of Dr. Rima Abbas, her beloved husband and children. She was a caring mother and a dedicated family practice physician. Our hearts go out to all of her family, friends and patients during this difficult time."