Michigan family of 5 killed in fiery crash caused by wrong-way driver

David Jesse

A Michigan family of five returning from a Florida vacation was killed in a fiery crash when their SUV was struck head-on by a wrong-way driver on northbound I-75 early Sunday morning in Lexington, Kentucky.

A metro Detroit family was killed after being hit by a wrong-way driver on I-75 near Lexington, Kentucky around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, January 6, 2018.

The Fayette County Coroner in Lexington, Ky., identified those killed as Issam Abbas, 42, his wife, Dr. Rima Abbas, 38, and their children: Ali, 14; Isabella, 13, and Giselle, 7. The coroner said the family was returning from a trip to Florida.

Also killed was the driver of the pickup truck that reportedly struck the Abbas' vehicle. The coroner identified him as Joey Lee Bailey, 41, of Georgetown, Kentucky, and said Bailey was believed to be driving under the influence. Toxicology results were pending Sunday afternoon.

Bailey's vehicle was traveling south in the northbound lanes of I-75 when it struck the Abbas family's sport-utility vehicle. 

Rima Abbas is listed as specializing in family medicine on Beaumont's website, practicing in the Beaumont Medical Center in Garden City. She is affiliated with Beaumont Wayne and Beaumont Dearborn. She graduated from Wayne State University's medical school in 2006. Issam was an attorney and real estate agent.

"There is no way the family and our community can fathom this loss," said Fayez Faraj, who says he has been a close family friend for the past 25 years. "A beautiful family was senselessly taken away from us. The Abbas family was kind, loving, outgoing and generous. They raised three beautiful children who shared their parents love of life."

The deaths drew an outpouring of anguish and support on social media.

Wayne County Commission Sam Baydoun, who also worked with Issam, took to Facebook to say: "I am at loss for words. There are no words to describe this tragedy. My friend and colleague and his wife and three children were killed in a fiery crash earlier today."

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Wayne County Executive Warren Evans also issued a statement on Facebook:  "I am heartbroken by the news that Issam and Rima Abbas, along with their three children Ali, Isabella, and Giselle, were killed in a traffic crash this morning while traveling in Kentucky."

Rima's office will be closed Monday and Beaumont is in the process of notifying her patients, the hospital said.

“We are devastated by the tragic loss of Dr. Rima Abbas, her beloved husband and children,"  David Wood, Beaumont Health chief medical officer, said in a statement. " She was a caring mother and a dedicated family practice physician. Our hearts go out to all of her family, friends and patients during this difficult time."

The crash occurred about 2:30 a.m., on I-75 about one mile before the Man o' War Blvd exit, Lexington police said in a press release.

Just before the collision happened, several 9-1-1 calls were received about a white pickup truck traveling in the wrong direction in the northbound lanes.

A preliminary investigation determined that the pickup truck hit an SUV head-on, causing the SUV to catch fire. Video posted by Lexington TV stations shows both cars engulfed in a raging fire.

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Contributing: Jennifer Dixon and Melanie Maxwell, Detroit Free Press

Follow David Jesse on Twitter: @reporterdavidj 

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan family of 5 killed in fiery crash caused by wrong-way driver