Inside an ornate Catholic church in North Philadelphia, 7-year-old Gina Marie Rosario, one of three children killed when an out-of-control motorist fleeing police struck them and an adult, was remembered yesterday as a loving child and a tender angel bound for heaven.
About 300 people gathered at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church at Fifth Street and Girard Avenue to pay tribute to the girl, who was cut down in the June 10 car crash at Third Street near Annsbury Street.
"I can see your halo," said Gina's mother, Tammy Rosario, who is deaf, expressing the words in sign language as another woman recited them. "I can feel your halo hit me like a ray of sun."
Rosario said the words came from one of Gina's favorite songs.
"My daughter loved singing," Rosario said. "This is one of the songs that she loved."
Gina was killed when a Pontiac Grand Am that police say was driven by Donta Cradock, 18, killed her and a friend, Aaliyah Griffin, 6, who was buried Monday. Also killed were Latoya Smith, 22, and her daughter, Remedy Smith, 1; their funerals will be held today.
Police said Cradock and his stepbrother, Ivan Rodriguez, 20, had robbed a man of a motorcycle in the 5400 block of Rising Sun Avenue. Rodriguez fled on the motorcycle and Cradock in the Pontiac, police said. Seeing an officer approaching, Cradock allegedly sped south on Third Street before crashing.
The gathering at the church included many people wearing white T-shirts bearing Gina's air-brushed photograph and "Heaven's New Angel" across the back.
Looking at the small, ivory-colored casket topped with a crucifix and a white pall in the center aisle, Rosario spoke to her daughter.
"Gina, you are my angel, and you will always be in my heart," said Rosario, wearing one of the T-shirts.
She said Gina had "loved dressing up in my clothes and shoes. . . . She loved playing outside. She loved her school classmates and teachers."
As a soprano soloist sang "Ava Maria," Mayor Nutter hugged members of Gina's family, who filled the first two pews, and left quietly as the Mass wound down.
The Rev. Kevin Moley, who is pastor of St. Peter's and presided over the service, said, "In the waters of baptism, Gina Marie died with Christ and rose with him to new life.
"I do not think there is anything more precious than the life of a child," Moley said. "When you deal in the deaths of three little girls and their mom, it is extremely overwhelming."
Addressing Gina's relatives, he said, "Your family has been bleeding. Our community and the people of Philadelphia have been bleeding.
"I have no doubt that this child of yours is alive in the Kingdom of God," Moley said. "I would hope that you see Gina Marie as an angel of God. . . . She is living with the saints and the angels."