WESTVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — A Westville woman is grieving the loss of her daughter, grandmother, and husband — but she isn’t doing it alone.
Kayla Thompson’s daughter and grandmother died in Georgetown in May, when they crashed into a substation. Now she’s thanking her family and community for supporting her, and is making plans to pay them back.
“We’re not real sure what happened or what caused the wreck, but it was a tragedy. It just really hit our family hard,” Thompson said.
Her grandmother, 77-year-old Janice Harden, and her three-year-old daughter, Ella, were in a car accident. They were on their way to a beauty pageant when Harden went off-road and hit a gas substation.
“I was in shock. I was in disbelief of the accident. I felt numb. It didn’t feel like real life,” Thompson said.
Only, she wasn’t going through the pain alone. Her community was feeling it with her.
“We had groceries delivered. People made food. And it’s just one thing after another and it’s just so much appreciated,” Thompson said. “There’s so much love in small communities, and when a tragedy happens, everyone just steps in with what they can do.”
While the support from Westville and Georgetown came as a pleasant surprise, it wasn’t the first time. Just a year prior, her newlywed husband died unexpectedly.
“Everyone just gathered around. The father from the church came down the day of the accident and did a prayer. And it’s just overwhelming, and it’s much appreciated,” said Thompson.
Now the widowed mother is being held up by her neighbors with community events, memorial fundraisers, and benches dedicated to her loved ones.
“Ella’s favorite color was blue. So in the Labor Day parade, they all wore blue shirts. People in the parade had blue stuff on and passed out bracelets, necklaces,” Thompson said.
She plans on returning the favor by doing something special for Ella’s milestone birthday next school year. Her fifth birthday, when she would have started kindergarten, will be a back-to-school giveaway. Her 18th will be a scholarship fund for kids in the community.
“It is holding me together, just how much love and support is around me. It keeps me going,” Thompson said.
Thompson is hoping to find a seamstress to make a blanket from Ella’s clothes over the years. There will be a memorial benefit on Oct. 14 at Izzy’s Bar in Westville.