Families say goodbyes as 5 crash victims laid to rest - KCTV5 News

Families say goodbyes as 5 crash victims laid to rest

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Many tears were shed in the flower-scented rooms where final goodbyes were said to five young lives taken too soon in a crash on Interstate 435.

A funeral service was held Saturday morning at Memorial Missionary Baptist church for a young mother and her three children. A second funeral service was held for 17-year-old Dominique Johnson who was a passenger in the car.

Shante Hopkins and her youngest child, TayShawn, were buried in the same pink casket. Her two daughter, Ja Riah, 2, and Ja Niyiah, who was going turn 2 years old in February, had their own small pastel-colored caskets.

The five were killed exactly two weeks earlier when Hopkins' 1996 Mazda Protege stalled on I-435 near the Eastwood Trafficway accident. A semi plowed into the back of the vehicle.

Investigators are working to determine whether Hopkins' car ran out of fuel or broke down. Family members believe the car was experiencing mechanical issues based on phone calls from Hopkins.

The driver of the semi, Gregory Carlson, 56, of Minnesota, never applied his brakes or took any evasive actions before hitting the vehicle, according to a preliminary report by the Kansas City Police Department. He was not impaired at the time of the crash. Investigators are also looking into whether Carlson was distracted.

The program for the "homecoming service" for Hopkins and her children was filled with heartbreaking details about their lives.

"Shante was very passionate about her family and simply adored her children. There was nothing that she wouldn't do for any of them," the funeral program said. "Her ambitious spirit was an inspiration to many as she often motivated others without even attempting to do so. It was her eagerness to make each day better than the day before that was a source of encouragement to her family."

The program was filled with pictures of the victims and reflections on their lives. Ja Riah was called "Dooder," and was a busy baby with a large personality.

"She was known for doing exactly what she wanted to do and when she wanted to do it. She loved eating and would not be found without her sippy cup," the program said.

Her younger sister was called Chocolate Drop. Ja Niyiah loved to eat, sing and dance. She was a happy baby whose "precious dimples will be forever remembered."

Their baby brother was just seven months old. He was called Chunks and loved to eat. He loved big bottles with lots of cereal.

"He was simply adorable in every aspect and brought joy to those he came in contact with. Although they were slobbery, he gave the best kisses!" the program said.

Pictures of Dominique were included in the program.

Hopkins' survivors include an older son, De'Vian, who was with his grandparents in Warrensburg.

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