A DC family is reeling under the weight of tens of thousands of dollars in funeral expenses after losing three generations in a car crash.
The big extended family held a service today for Isiah, Cindy and Thomas Willis — but they cannot bury them until they pay the cemetery.
They staggered, literally and figuratively, under the burden of carrying three caskets down the stairs of Imani Temple on Capital Hill.
Grandfather Thomas Willis, at 69, the patriarch… mother Cindy Willis… and grandson Isiah Willis, just 21.
“It’s horrifying. It’s very horrifying,” said cousin Roxie Farrow.
The three were returning from a funeral themselves earlier this month, when Virginia State Police say Isiah overcorrected and careened off I-95 in Prince George County. “They said ‘There’s been an accident, and all three of yours are gone. They’re gone,'” said aunt Roslyn Holmes, her voice breaking.
Authorities transferred the bodies to one funeral home in Virginia, than another in Maryland, and a third in DC, where they are being held. And at every stage, the costs have mounted. “I’m very grateful to have so many people, family friends, strangers helping us,” said Farrow.
Isiah played rugby at the University of Mary Washington. “He was a great kid. A great kid,” said his coach, Tim Brown.
He remembers a young man who had almost nothing, but was always smiling — and excelling in the state rugby final. “I think Isiah touched the ball three times and scored twice. I think the quote from the JMU coach was, ‘If he had touched it one more time, we wouldn’t have one the game.'”
There’s talk of insurance money to help cover about $33,000 in fees from the funeral homes and the cemetery. But Isiah, Cindy and Thomas Willis’ bodies will go back into storage until family come up with the money.
“It’s very painful,” says Farrow.
If you want to help the Willis’ cover the expenses, you can contribute to their $17,000 bill at the Ron Taylor Funeral Home, 1722 North Capitol St, NW, DC, 20002 … or to the more than $15,000 in charges for burial plots at Rock Creek Cemetery, 201 Allison St NW, DC 20011.
Isaiah Willis’ former Rugby team has set up a page for donations of their fallen team mate. See the link below: