By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — A toxicology report completed by the Fayette County Coroner’s Office confirmed that the wrong-way driver who crashed into the Abbas family had a blood alcohol level almost four times the legal limit in Kentucky.
A report released Jan. 16 by the coroner’s office said that Joey Bailey, 41, of Georgetown, Kentucky had a blood alcohol level of .306 while driving in a state that has a legal limit of .08.
Bailey was driving the wrong way on northbound I-75 in a pickup truck when he crashed into the Abbas’ Cadillac Escalade at 2:30 a.m. Jan. 6 in Lexington.
Real estate agent and lawyer Issam Abbas, 42; his wife, Dr. Rima Abbas, 38; and their children, Ali, 14; Isabella, 13; and Giselle, 7, all died as they were returning home from a trip to Florida.
Bailey also died as a result of the crash.
The Lexington Police Department said based on 911 phone calls, Bailey was possibly traveling the wrong way for six miles starting at mile marker 113 and ending at the crash scene at mile marker 107. When the crash occurred, the Escalade caught fire but the pickup truck did not.
According to family members, the Florida trip was postponed for the funeral of Rima Abbas’s grandmotherl on Dec. 24, causing the family to return on Sunday instead of Saturday night.
Visitation and funeral services took place at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, the city where Rima and Issam Abbas grew up, on Jan. 6 to 8 where over 1,000 people paid their respects. The entire family was buried Jan. 8 at the Islamic Memorial Gardens of Westland.
During the Jan. 15 Dearborn City Council meeting, Council President Susan Dabaja said the crash and family’s death cut deeply into the heart of Dearborn.
Dabaja said she met Rima Abbas as a young girl and first met Issam Abbas through her brother and law partner, building a friendship with the family.
“His last advice to me was to enjoy life and family,” Dabaja said. “Reduce the stress that our jobs are well known for as it just wasn’t worth it. The Abbas family will be dearly missed by so many including myself, they will live on in the hearts of those who touched. I want to ask and honor the family’s wishes. Let’s celebrate the way they lived, not only remember them for the way they departed us.”
Councilman Michael Sareini said he knew Issam Abbas for many years when he was in law school and that he introduced Sareini to other members of his family, who he has become friends with. He also took the time to thank the fire department in Lexington for their work, for the bouquet of flowers and card they sent during the funeral service.
“As in any tragedy, I’ve always learned to look at the positive aspect, and as the council president had indicated their celebrated life,” Sareini said. “They’re all in heaven together.”
Rima Abbas was a family physician with an office in Garden City and also practiced medicine at Beaumont Hospital-Wayne. The Abbas family resided in Northville where all three children attended Northville Public Schools, which provided support services to students and staff.
“We are saddened by this loss and will make every effort to support your child as needed,” Northville Public Schools Supt. Mary Kay Gallagher wrote in a letter to parents and staff. “We will be working together with students, teachers, and parents to discuss ways to recognize and honor the lives of Ali, Isabella and Giselle and their parents over the coming days.”
A candlelight vigil was held on Jan. 11 in the family’s memory at Ford Field Park in Northville.
In lieu of flowers or other donations, family members are asking for donations to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. To donate go to www.madd.donordrive.com/campaign.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])