As the sun went down over the Chattahoochee River late Wednesday, more than 100 people gathered for a candlelight vigil at the Phenix City Amphitheater to remember three adults and two children killed in a July 18 collision on U.S. 80 west of Phenix City.
Family, friends and relatives were there for twin sisters, Trudy Hebert and Judy Madere, both 58; Carrie Madere Jones, 32, and her two children, Trinity Jones, 7, and Jaxson Jones, 4, all of Albany, La. During the vigil, there were scriptures and poems, songs, words of comfort from the Rev. Paul Meacham of City Gate Church in Phenix City and colorful balloons released into the sky.
The vigil was held on the birthday for the twins, Hebert and Madere. “A.J” Thomas, the daughter of Madere, said it was a real blessing for the community to support her and her family in the tragedy. Her family members were killed instantly after the 2014 Nissan Rogue they were traveling in collided with 2006 Mack tractor-trailer on a stretch of road between Ladonia and Crawford.
Thomas said she misses her family members. “They spent a lot time traveling back and forth to visit,” she said. “I’m going to miss those visits and the phone calls.”
She knows it’s going to take time to heal from the loss of five family members. “People tell me with time it gets easier but it seems like time is just starting to get harder to deal with because of the realization of them being gone is really starting to set in ,” she said after the vigil.
The family has been on a roller coaster of emotions since the collision. “Emotions come and go,” Thomas said. “Certain things we see or hear or pictures we come across, it stirs up memories. Sometimes it affects us more than others.”
To recognized the public safety and all first responders on the scene that day, Meacham said a special prayer to all the personnel attending the vigil.
“ I feel blessed they wanted to come out and be part of this,” Thomas said. “ That is one of the reasons I wanted to have this. We did a special prayer service in this vigil for them to let them know I do thank them. I want the Lord to give them peace and comfort through this. I know they are having a hard time.”
Meacham told those gathered to look to the one who has overcome the troubles of this world. “Through the sacrifice that Christ made over 2,000 years ago, he gave us a way to escape the problems and tragedies that this life has by looking to him and realizing that he is a help in times of trouble,” he said.