By Naeisha Rose
Civil rights leader Al Sharpton, state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Cambria Heights) will be among the many mourners expected at the funeral Saturday for four of the five victims who died April 23 in a fast-moving house fire in Queens Village.
Managing the funeral is family member Sheener Bailey-Briggs.
“Everything happens for a reason, but I don’t know about this one,” Bailey-Briggs said.
A three-alarm fire took the lives of four family members and a friend on a quiet Sunday afternoon in Queens Village when the frame house at 112-16 208th St. burst into flames. No calls were made from the house and the Fire Department was alerted by a passing motorists six minutes after the fire first broke out. The cause of the blaze was still under investigation.
Bailey-Briggs chose to have the funeral service at New Greater Bethel Ministries at 215-32 Jamaica Ave. in Queens Village not just to accommodate many family members, but because it was a place close to her heart, like her nephews and cousins who perished in the blaze.
Bailey-Briggs was related to all four victims who will be remembered Saturday: Jada Foxworth, 20; Destiny Dones, 16; Rashawn Matthews, 10 and Chayce Lipford, 2. Sisters Jada and Destiny were her first cousins, once removed. Rashaw was her great nephew and Chayce her great-grandnephew.
Bethel Ministries has served the extended family in difficult times before.
“I joined over 20 years ago,” Bailey-Briggs said. “When my mom died, and my cousin died in a motorcycle accident, I used this church.”
Planning this funeral has been the toughest thing she has ever done in her life, she said. For the past 12 days she has barely been sleeping or eating.
“I don’t believe that it is true,” Bailey-Briggs said. “Everyday I drive past just to see if it’s true. I don’t let my sister (Gwen) know. I drive pass the house. What a nightmare. Just pray for us to get through this.”
As she reads through the obituaries for her four relatives, she recalls her fondest memories of them.
“Chayce, his smile. That baby was too cute. Destiny, from the time that she was a baby, that girl walked with joy. If you think that God takes the best, he really did. That kid right there – all four of them where joyful. They were rays of sunshine. I’m not kidding.”
Despite the tragedy that has befallen her family, Bailey-Briggs is working diligently to put on a funeral that befits the family.
“This is going to be a beautiful funeral. It is going to be excellent. Just pray for us. It’s a lot.”
The wake will be from 9 a.m. to 11.am. followed by the funeral from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A repast will be held at 4 p.m.
The four young people will be buried at Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale in L.I.
The fifth victim, Melody Edwards, 17, was laid to rest Wednesday at Mount Moriah AME Church in Cambria Heights.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose