Mom, baby killed in Philly crash buried today

June 19, 2009 12:13:43 PM PDT
They looked like two princesses lying in the casket they shared, a mother and her baby girl in formal white dresses, sparkling gold shoes and matching tiaras. PHOTOS of Aaliyah Griffin from the funeral program
PHOTOS from the Feltonville crash

Latoya Smith and her 11-month-old daughter were remembered Friday as symbols of the fragility of life after being fatally hit by a car fleeing police. Smith was 22 and her baby, Rimanee Camp, was two days shy of her first birthday.

"This is the worst reminder of how precious, how tenuous, how fleeting life really is," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told mourners. "All of a sudden, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, everything changes."

The June 10 crash also killed 6-year-old Aaliyah Griffin and 7-year-old Gina Marie Rosario, who were buried separately earlier this week. All four victims were playing on the sidewalk in front of relatives' homes in Philadelphia when the speeding car jumped the curb, police said. Rimanee was in a baby carriage.

Two men are charged with murder, vehicular homicide and other offenses in connection with the crash.

The funeral Friday at the packed United Methodist Church in suburban Bala Cynwyd was marked by songs, dance, praise and tears. The charismatic service was led by ministers from Smith's church in Philadelphia, New Hope Revival Church.

Mourners remembered Smith as someone who loved dancing, singing, shopping for jewelry and playing spades with her older sister. They laughed as one speaker recalled how Smith was known for her lip gloss and a certain hairstyle.

Smith was also the mother of two sons, who were not involved in the accident.

Minister Denise Burston read letters of condolence from city officials, friends and family members, as well as remarks penned by Janice Brown, who was Smith's mother and Rimanee's grandmother.

Brown wrote that her soul is filled "with unbelievable grief, sorrow and pain."

"How can I function when there are two holes in my heart?" Brown wrote. "I never wanted to see you go, never wanted to say goodbye."

Police initially identified Smith's daughter as Remedy Smith. But programs handed out during the service identified her as Rimanee Camp; one of many flower arrangements at the funeral spelled out "Nee-Nee," the baby's nickname.

Rimanee was remembered as a happy child who was always smiling. She would have turned 1 on June 12, which happens to be her grandmother's birthday.

Mother and daughter were to be buried in Merion Memorial Park in Bala Cynwyd.

Police say the driver of the car, 18-year-old Donta Cradock, is charged with murder, vehicular homicide, and several other offenses. His stepbrother, 20-year-old Ivan Rodriguez, is also charged with murder.

Police say Rodriguez got out of the car, stole a motorcycle at gunpoint and drove off while Cradock fled in the auto.

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