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A Kentucky community has banded together to help cover the costs of burying five people — including four children — after a wrong-way driver caused an interstate 75 crash in Lexington Saturday.
Two-year-old Jack Greene, 5-year-old Brayden Boxwell, 9-year-old Karmen Greene and 11-year-old Santanna Greene were in a northbound vehicle with 30-year-old Catherine Greene when it was struck head-on by Jamaica Caudill, 38, who was driving south about 12:30 p.m., according to videos and police. Police said Caudill reportedly entered I-75 north in the wrong direction at the 104-mile marker, which is the Athens exit.
Jack, Brayden, Karmen, Santanna and Catherine were from Owenton, according to their obituary. Karmen died at the scene of the crash as did Caudill, according to the Fayette County coroner’s office. The others in the Greene vehicle were taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where they later died.
McDonald and New Funeral Home in Owenton isn’t charging for the children’s funerals. Between donations of vaults and flowers and offerings from community members, the family’s funeral expenses have been eliminated.
“As a community, we have come together to take care of everything,” said Jennifer Duncan, a funeral director at McDonald and New.
What the children who died in I-75 crash loved about life
Catherine Greene was the mother to Brayden and Jack, and the stepmother to Santanna and Karmen, according to the family’s obituaries. Catherine’s husband, Jon Greene, was the father of all four children.
All the children loved being outdoors, according to their obituaries.
“Brayden loved fishing and playing at the park and hanging out with his brother and sisters,” Brayden and Jack’s obituary said. “Jack also loved being outdoors, fishing and picking up critters, watching Mickey Mouse, and of course his beloved bubble tape.”
Karmen and Santanna were both students in Owen County schools, according to their obituaries. Karmen was in the third grade, and Santanna was in the fourth grade. Cheyenne Bass was the mother of the two girls. They also had a brother and a stepfather.
Santanna “enjoyed fishing, playing basketball, and most of all being with her family,” her obituary said. “She loved dressing up and never missed an opportunity to do something outdoors even if it was shooting or weed eating in a dress.”
Karmen “enjoyed gymnastics, learning Tik Tok dances, and playing on her phone,” her obituary said. “She was affectionately known as ‘Marvin’ and never missed an opportunity to go fishing or swimming, even if it was freezing.”
In addition to her husband, Catherine Greene is survived by her parents and three siblings.
“She was a homemaker who enjoyed making crafts with her cricut, fishing, shopping, and yard sales,” Catherine’s obituary said. “Most of all, she enjoyed being a wife and mother and spending time with family.”
Visitation for the family will be 11 a.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church of Life Center, according to the funeral home. The funerals will follow at 2 p.m., followed by burials in the Beechwood Cemetery.
Lexington Priest: ‘I found myself reliving the images’
Father Jim Sichko, a priest in the Diocese of Lexington and a “Papal Missionary of Mercy” commissioned by Pope Francis, previously offered to pay for the funeral expenses of the woman and four children. But the community has covered everything, Duncan said.
“While we appreciated the offer, it wasn’t necessary,” she said.
Sichko made the offer after he witnessed the wreckage of the crash. He was driving southbound on I-75 when he saw first responders on the scene, he told the Herald-Leader Monday.
“I happened to be traveling along that road that day,” he said. “I happened to be on the interstate, and I came across this accident as they were literally ... pulling a body out of the vehicle. I stopped, I pulled over, and I just started praying.”
Sichko said he’d still like to help in any way that he can.
“It has weighed very heavy on my heart,” Sichko said. “I’ve found myself being depressed the last couple days. I’ve found myself questioning — I’ve found myself reliving the images. In my mind, I can see the firefighter taking the body out of the vehicle and just shaking his head no.”
Witness: Wrong-way driver could have avoided crash
When asked Monday about the destinations of the involved drivers or what may have led to Caudill driving on the wrong side of the interstate, Sgt. Donnell Gordon said Lexington police wouldn’t comment because there was still an ongoing investigation.
Video taken by a driver on southbound I-75 and shared to Facebook showed Caudill’s vehicle driving a significant distance in the wrong direction. The driver is not going slowly and appears at times to be on the shoulder or the innermost lane of traffic before colliding with another car. The video shows the initial moment of impact between the cars.
Javier Maldonado, who shared the video, said his wife recorded it. They were passing through Kentucky on their way from Ohio to Georgia at the time. He said witnessing the crash in person “was terrifying” and it seemed like the wrong-way vehicle could’ve stopped and avoided the crash. He said he saw the car swerve around a tractor-trailer before crashing into the Greene family.
Maldonado said one car went up in the air after the impact and the vehicles were badly damaged.
The funeral home is accepting memorial contributions for the family, according to the obituary.
People are also donating to the family through two GoFundMe pages. They were set up to help with “lingering” expenses outside of the funerals and the burials. One of them has raised more than $28,000, the other more than $17,000.
“This is going to be the hardest time they will have ever have to face in their lives,” page organizers Elizabeth and Shantella Diane wrote in the GoFundMe post.
The second fundraiser was organized by Trish Bryant, the adopted mother of Catherine Greene. Bryant said on the GoFundMe page that Catherine and her husband, Jon, met in 2017. The page set up by Bryant had raised more than $17,000 as of Monday morning.
Foundation honoring past crash victims raises money for the family
The Lesley and Rhyan Prather Foundation has started a fundraiser to support the Greene family after the deadly crash. The foundation was set up in remembrance of Lesley Prather, a Louisville firefighter, and her daughter Rhyan, according to multiple reports. The two were reportedly killed in a car crash in February 2020. The accident also killed Carrie McCaw and her daughter Kacey.
The Prathers and the McCaws were in a vehicle together going to a volleyball tournament in Kansas City. The wreck occurred when another driver allegedly was distracted by trying to roll down the passenger-side window in his vehicle, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
He also may have been under the influence of a controlled substance, police said, according to the Post-Dispatch.
The foundation’s goal “is to help children, women, and families in need,” according to the foundation’s website. The fundraiser for the Greene family had raised $970 as of Tuesday morning.
The goal for the donation drive is to raise $5,000.