In matching white dresses and tiaras, Latoya J. Smith and her baby daughter, Rimanee Camp, lay together in a single casket yesterday as hundreds of mourners gathered for their funeral.
Mother and child were killed June 11 when a driver fleeing police slammed into a crowded Feltonville sidewalk, killing Smith, 11-month-old Rimanee, and two other children, ages 6 and 7.
With eight clergy leading prayers at Bala United Methodist Church in Bala Cynwyd, and Philadelphia's mayor in the pews, the 21/2-hour service had the air of a state funeral.
The "Feltonville Four" have come to symbolize the explosion of criminal violence that is claiming hundreds of lives each year, including six police officers since 2006.
Rimanee was two days shy of her first birthday when she was killed instantly. Her mother, 22, died the next day.
Several mourners nearly collapsed in grief when they laid eyes on the casket.
"Not just the city of Philadelphia feels the pain," Mayor Nutter told the overflow congregation. "What happened last week has touched everyone."
The mayor said that as he visited the accident scene last week, he was struck by "how precious, tenuous and fleeting life is." When he got home, he said, he woke his daughter, Olivia, 14, and hugged her.
"We should do that every day" to our children, he said, "no matter what they do."
Yesterday's funeral was the last of three for the victims of the chaos that erupted at 7:30 p.m. when Donta Craddock, 18, lost control of his car near Third and Annsbury Streets.
Craddock, who had a long criminal record as a juvenile, was being chased by police after allegedly trying to steal a motorcycle at gunpoint. He has been charged with murder, vehicular homicide, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, carjacking, gun charges and other offenses.
Aaliyah Griffin, 6, was buried Tuesday; Gina Rosario, 7, on Wednesday. The Griffin and Rosario families attended yesterday's service.
The four deaths "have affected everybody," Gina's grandmother Elsa Rosario said as she approached the church. She wore a white and pink T-shirt bearing Gina's image and reading "Heaven's New Angel."
The viewing began at 9 a.m. Family members arrived about 10:15 and processed into the Gothic-style stone church, where Smith's mother is a member. Rimanee's father is Brandon Camp.
White and gold balloons, a pink teddy bear, and multiple floral arrangements - including one that spelled out Rimanee's nickname, "Neenee" - flanked the blue-gray casket. (Her first name was incorrectly given as Remedy in earlier official accounts of the accident.)
Clergy and other speakers assured the mourners that mother and daughter were together in heaven and that their deaths were God's will.
"Those tiaras are going to turn into crowns," said community activist Patricia Redmond.
The Rev. Herman Dixon of Chesapeake, Va., spoke of the first baptism of his ministry: a girl born prematurely to a white mother and a black father whose "racist" families "didn't want them together."
Weighing a half-pound, the girl survived only a week, he said, but at the funeral, both families hugged and "put an end to their foolishness."
He said he hoped the deaths of the four in Feltonville might serve a similar purpose.
Dixon, the pastor of the church attended by Smith's sister, Vashonnda Johnson, also asked for forgiveness for Craddock, who he said he hoped would not only face justice but would "repent to the super-judge" and change his ways.
Family members did not address the funeral, but one pastor read a poem by Janice Brown, Latoya Smith's mother, about her "unbelievable grief."
"Now stands loneliness," she wrote. "How I long to hold the two of you in my arms once more."
Although the service began sadly and solemnly, it grew livelier and louder as time passed and the pastors sought to turn the mourners' grief into a celebration of eternal life.
"Put your hands up," Bishop Harold Faust told the congregation toward the end.
"When tears run from your eyes, you just trust the Lord," he said, later urging all to "get on your feet" and clap.
Many did. But about a quarter sat grim-faced.
"Everybody's come together," Robin Anderson, a cousin of Smith's, said of the service. "But no words can express what it feels like just now."
Burial followed at Merion Memorial Park in Bala Cynwyd.