Hundreds of mourners packed into two south Louisiana churches Friday to pay their respects to the families of six people killed last month when a suspected drunken driver crashed into their car in East Feliciana Parish.
Some mourners knew the victims well, while others were only acquaintances.
Ora Kemp said she used to work with one of the victims at Southern Belle Sandwiches. Although Kemp hadn’t talked to Brenda Gaines in years, she said it was important to attend her funeral.
“What happened to these families is tragic,” Kemp said. “My heart goes out to them.”
Brenda Gaines, 64; Angela Mosely, 36; Denise Gaines Johnson, 33; Diamond Gaines, 12; and Jyran Johnson, 6, were killed instantly when a Greensburg man accused of drunken driving crashed his pickup into their Mercury Grand Marquis at 9:12 p.m. May 30 near La. 67 and La. 412, State Police have said.
Willie Gaines Jr., 15, died June 2 from injuries he suffered in the crash, State Police said.
A seventh person in the car, Rogerick Johnson Jr., 13, was critically injured and remains in an area hospital.
The driver of the truck, Brett Gerald, 30, 12196 La. 10, Greensburg, has been booked in Clinton on six counts of vehicular homicide, one count of vehicular negligent injuring, second-offense DWI, reckless operation of a motor vehicle and driving left of center.
Gerald, who has at least three prior DWI arrests, is expected to be charged in the crash on Tuesday.
Several people who spoke at Friday’s service for the Gaineses and the Johnsons at Living Faith Christian Center in Baton Rouge said Gerald must be forgiven.
Brenda Gaines’ nephew, Charles Wilson Jr., said when he first learned of his aunt’s passing he was angry and wanted revenge.
Then, he said the Lord spoke to him and told him that if he doesn’t forgive Gerald he’s in business with the devil.
“It’s in God’s hands,” Wilson said. “It always has been.”
John Gaines Sr., who lost his wife, a daughter and three grandchildren in last month’s crash, stood before the packed sanctuary on Winbourne Avenue and said, “Vengeance is the Lord” and that he prays Gerald meets Him.
Gaines said his wife of 50 years always thought of others and that he will miss her dearly. He said he also will miss his daughter and her children, who visited him often.
Gaines’ son, John Gaines Jr. said his mother, sister, nephews and niece are in a better place now.
“They should be crying for us,” he said.
Barbara Armstead, who spoke during the service for Mosley at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church between Wilson and Clinton, said she attended a Bible study session with Mosely and the other victims at New Beginning Full Gospel Church in Clinton the night of the crash.
“We had such a great time. The presence of God was in there like it never was before,”Armstead said. “Where the spirit of God is, there’s liberty.”
“This is not a sad occasion for me, because this baby left this world happy. She was so full of joy,” Armstead said.
Mosely’s father, Joseph Matthews, is pastor of the church where the Gaines family and his daughter worshipped shortly before the fatal collision.
“She believed in God deeply. She was concerned about her family. She kept in touch with all of them,” he said before the funeral began.
“We’re a close-knit family. We’re a family that loves one another,” he said.
Mosely was born in Milwaukee, but eventually returned to Clinton with her father and mother, Annie Matthews. She was a 1995 graduate of Clinton High School, attended Med-Vance Training Academy and worked as a certified nursing assistant for 10 years.
Audrey Matthews Fenner, a relative from Milwaukee, said Mosely was “a very loving, kind person.”
“One thing I’ll always remember is that she was always smiling,” Fenner said. “She was a lovely daughter and turned out to be a great mom.”
In addition to her parents, Mosely is survived by her husband, Otis Mosley, of Baton Rouge; her children, Carmen, Dacia and Derrick Dunn; a sister, seven brothers and three sister-in-laws and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.