Batesville Mourns Lost Lives, Services Sunday For Holmes Children

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Batesville and Panola County, still reeling from the shocking and tragic deaths of five children of the community last Tuesday, will pay final respects this weekend with visitation Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. at Cooley’s Mortuary, and Sunday afternoon at the funeral service at Batesville Junior High School.

The three grieving mothers, all Holmes family sisters, will receive friends and mourners from noon until 1 p.m. on Sunday. The service for the five victims of the March 21 automobile accident will be conducted by Rev. Zannie Leland, Jr., at 1 p.m.

The children will be laid to rest at Eureka Cemetery following the service. Cooley’s Mortuary announced Tuesday that no more donations will be accepted at the funeral home for the expense of the funeral and burial services. A flood of financial support quickly raised more than $30,000 for the family’s expenses from all sectors of Panola County.

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Additional funds are being collected through the GoFund Me website.

“Because we are destined by the plan of God who accomplishes everything according to His design, we cannot explain the why of the horrific automobile accident that occurred on Tuesday, March 21 on the Curtis Road. Hearts are broken over the loss of life for these precious five children: Jamerian, Earl, Montrez, Destiny, and Titaeiera,” Mayor Hal Ferrell said in a statement released this week.

“Family and friends across and beyond Panola County have been shocked and saddened.  Young or old-grief is real.  As caring people, let us all open our hearts for strength and peace today and in the days ahead,” Ferrell said.

Sheriff Shane Phelps said the accident was the worst experience of his 25-year career in law enforcement. “It was something I hope to never have to see again. It was hard for us as officers and first responders working the wreck and it was heartbreaking to watch the family members deal with their grief,” he said.

Phelps said his office provided counselors later in the week for those who worked the accident and aided in recovery. Additional support was also made available to family members in the days following the tragedy.

The accident remains under investigation, Phelps said. The five teens, siblings and cousins, perished when their car struck a concrete bridge on Curtis Rd., about three miles west of Batesville, and plunged into McIvor Creek.

Because of recent rains the water in the creek was high enough to cover the car. Just one of the occupants, a 14-year-old girl, was able to escape. She was not seriously injured and was able to give first responders information about the others in the vehicle.

Those who lost their lives were Earl Holmes, 13; Jamerian Towns, 12; Montrez Webster, 14; Destiny Liphford, 15; and Titaeiera Webster, 19. The accident happened about 10:30 p.m. when the road was wet from rain.

One of the mothers expressed her thanks through Cooley’s Mortuary for the response of the business community and individuals during the time of loss, saying, “Our hearts are thankful for the love and support shown to our family during this time.”