Fam­ily shares mem­o­ries, sad­ness at Ab­bas vigil

The Detroit News - - METRO - BY SARAH RAHAL The Detroit News

Northville — When Rima and Rana Ab­bas were teenagers they would sit in their shared bed­room and talk end­lessly about their fu­ture.

The sis­ters, only 11 months apart, were prac­ti­cally twins. They looked alike, sounded alike and were tied at the hip. When they got mar­ried and left their par­ents’ home in east Dear­born, they ended up in Northville, four blocks apart.

Rana could share sto­ries for hours about her sis­ter but strug­gled Fri­day to find the words as she ad­dressed a crowd of 500 that gath­ered to honor the mem­ory of Rima, her hus­band and three chil­dren.

The Ab­bas fam­ily was trav­el­ing home from a va­ca­tion in Florida when they were struck head-on at 2:30 a.m. Sun­day on In­ter­state 75 in Ken­tucky. The crash killed Rima, 38, Is­sam Ab­bas, 42, and their chil­dren; Ali, 14, Is­abelle, 13, and Giselle, 7.

Also killed was Joey Lee Bai­ley, who drove a pickup the wrong way on the in­ter­state be­fore he hit the Ab­bas fam­ily’s sport-util­ity vehicle. Au­thor­i­ties sus­pect he was drunk but are await­ing the re­sults of tox­i­col­ogy tests.

“Rima was my only sib­ling and AJ, Izzy and Giselle, my only nieces and nephew,” Rana Ab­bas Tay­lor said through her tears. “I can’t even begin to share with you how painful this has been on our en­tire fam­ily, but what I can tell you is they wanted noth­ing more than to be able to talk about how won­der­ful this com­mu­nity was.”

Tay­lor read a poem “When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Anand gelou at Ford Field Park dur­ing the can­dle­light cer­e­mony.

The tragedy has sent shock waves through Wayne County. Rima Ab­bas, a doc­tor, and Is­sam Ab­bas, a lawyer and real es­tate agent, were well-known and re­spected for their com­mu­nity in­volve­ment.

Bill Jones of Hill­side Mid­dle School said stu­dents have been shar­ing mem­o­ries of Ali, who loved Michi­gan State, Is­abelle, who adored cats.

Ha­ley Stevens, who rep­re­sents Northville in the 11th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, stood along­side U.S. Rep. Deb­bie Din­gell, D-Dear­born, at the vigil. Din­gell in­tro­duced the Ab­bas Act Fri­day, a bill to re­quire that new cars be equipped with ig­ni­tion in­ter­lock de­vices to pre­vent in­tox­i­cated driv­ing.

Moe Ab­bas shed tears re­call­ing a few sto­ries of his brother, Is­sam, and Rima and the chil­dren, who were “his pil­lars.”

“My fam­ily is over­whelmed to say the least with ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pened and your sup­port is how we’re mak­ing it through. If you could call this mak­ing it through,” he said.

The vigil closed out with an Is­lamic prayer with text from the Qu­ran.

The fam­ily was laid to rest be­side one an­other at the Is­lamic Me­mo­rial Gar­dens on Ann Ar­bor Trail in West­land.

In lieu of flow­ers, the fam­ily is ask­ing do­na­tions be made to Moth­ers Against Drunk Driv­ing.

The Es­bouh (com­mem­o­ra­tion ser­vices) for the Ab­bas Fam­ily will be held at 4 p.m. on Sun­day at the Is­lamic Cen­ter of Amer­ica in Dear­born.

Pho­tos by David Gu­ral­nick / The Detroit News

Friends and rel­a­tives of the Ab­bas fam­ily gather Fri­day to honor their mem­ory at a can­dle­light vigil at Ford Field Park in Northville.

Com­mu­nity mem­bers brave the cold Fri­day night to pay their re­spects to the five mem­bers of the Ab­bas fam­ily whose deaths sent shock waves through Wayne County.

Moe Ab­bas sheds tears re­call­ing a few sto­ries of his brother, Is­sam, and Rima and their chil­dren, who were “his pil­lars.”

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