Vol. 20,  No. 16 Aug. 23 - Sept. 5, 2007


Community Mourns Loss of Five Siblings


Friends and relatives of the five Norwood siblings who were killed in a horrific car accident last month gathered Friday night to say final goodbyes at McCall’s Bronxwood Funeral Home on Bronxwood Avenue in Wakefield.

Heartbroken mother Pamela Ramharrack, 48, laid to rest five of her children: Jessica, 11; Anderson, 13; Emmanuel, 16; Anthony, 21; and Perthrian, 24, who were killed as the family’s Honda Accord swerved across a Suffolk, Virginia highway and collided with an oncoming truck on Tuesday, July 24.

The oldest sibling, Perthrian GoPaul, leaves behind a husband and a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. She was presumed to be the driver.

As dozens of mourners packed the funeral home for the pre-funeral wake, Ramharrack said, “My kids were the most beautiful kids in the whole world. They were my million-dollar gift. They were everything to me.”

The family was returning from an annual visit to North Carolina when the crash occurred.

Neighbors of the family at 3395 Reservoir Oval West responded to news of the fatal accident with shock and sorrow for Ramharrack, who was inconsolable after she heard the news. Tenants in the building put up a small shrine of candles, flowers and teddy bears on the front stoop. The shrine has remained for a month.

After hearing of Ramharrack’s loss, community activist Joe Thompson reached out to the family, along with Pastor Jay Gooding of Fellowship Tabernacle Ministries.

“She was at sea, she was lost,” Thompson said. “You can’t do this by yourself. I was moved by her circumstances, and I know Pastor Gooding was moved to help out.”

They contacted other churches, the 49th Precinct Community Council and local elected officials to ask for their help in getting the word out and raising money to cover funeral expenses.

Asked how the family was coping with the tragedy, Ramharrack said, “Well I’m the family. There’s just my niece and my sister. But at the house, it’s just going to be me because the kids lived with me.”

Ramharrack has only one surviving daughter, Selina GoPaul, 23, of Queens.

Neighbor Annelle Tavarez remembered the generosity of Ramharrack’s son, Anthony, who would volunteer to help neighbors carry groceries upstairs. The young man died a week short of his 22nd birthday, according to a Daily News article.

This summer, Jessica, 11, who was to attend Thurgood Marshall Academy in Manhattan, participated in the school’s Gateway summer program for two weeks. William Blair, program director, called her a “very nice young lady, very polite and also very popular.”

At a memorial service held Friday, Aug. 10, in the school’s gymnasium, students read remarks and poetry written in memory of Jessica. They also performed two dance skits as a tribute to the girl who was as diligent with her schoolwork as she was passionate about dance, especially the Soca of her native Trinidad, which she had recently started learning. She would have turned 12 on Aug. 19, the day of the funeral.

“The kids were very touched by her,” said parent coordinator Linda McDougal. “She made a significant impact on the students, which I found really unique for a young person.”

Ed. note: Those wishing to make donations can send checks or money orders to the GoPaul Family Foundation at 3395 Reservoir Oval W., Apt. E-1, Bronx, NY 10467.

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