Messages of support have been pouring in to family members of three Greenwood residents killed in a crash over the weekend, testimony of the impact they had on others.
Kale Walker lost his aunt, his cousin and her husband in the crash, and in the days since, he has gotten hundreds of messages of support, he said.
“The emotional support is overwhelming,” he said. “I can’t keep up. I had to put a message on Facebook to say I’m sorry because I can’t keep up with all of the calls and the messages.”
Rose Ann Kelly-Pettus, 54, Shante Pettus Lewis, 30, and Orlando Lewis Jr., 30, all of Greenwood, were killed Saturday afternoon when a bus slammed into the back of their minivan while they were driving on State Road 37 Business Route, just north of Bloomington. The Lewis’ 2-year-old daughter, Khloe, was taken to a hospital for treatment, but is now home with family members, relatives said.
“Everything about them was centered around family,” said Walker, of Terre Haute, who is Kelly-Pettus’ nephew and Shante Pettus Lewis’ cousin. “Shante and Rose Ann were mother and daughter and best friends. They did everything together.”
His aunt and cousin both had a presence of love around them, Walker said.
“My aunt had a unique laugh that could brighten everybody’s day,” he said. “My cousin Shante was a replica of Aunt Rose-Ann.”
Kelly-Pettus’ had been planning to attend her sister’s birthday party Saturday evening in Terre Haute and had stopped in Bloomington first, Walker said.
“We’d been waiting on them all day, but we didn’t find out until 8:30 p.m.,” he said.
Police said the driver of the bus that slammed into the rear of the minivan told investigators he was distracted by ice under his feet.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said 46-year-old Brian Hodges of New Albany told deputies he was looking down, trying to kick away the ice, before he looked up Saturday and saw the minivan had stopped for a lane closure on the highway.
The crash also injured two other people.
The last time Carolyn Rudy saw her aunt was when she had graduated from a nursing program earlier this summer. Her aunt wasn’t supposed to come because of a recent foot surgery, but she attended her graduation anyway, Rudy said.
Both her aunt and cousin both made time to let others know they cared about them, Rudy said.
“She was a nice person,” Rudy said. “Everyone that knew her loved her. She told everyone she loved them.”
A GoFundMe page — gofundme.com/sudden-death-of-a-mother-daughter — has been set up to raise money for the funeral and cremation expenses. Any additional money that is raised will go into a trust for Pettus Lewis’ two children, both of whom are staying with relatives, Rudy said.
“We really haven’t had a death in our family since 2012,” Rudy said. “We’ve been trying to be as strong as we can, especially for the two babies who are left.”
The reality of the situation hasn’t sunk in yet, and likely won’t until the funeral next week, Wallace said.
“It’s hard,” he said. “The baby is looking for her mother, and the young boy trying to figure out what does it mean that my mom and grandmother aren’t coming back.”