Metro Detroit community in shock after Abbas family of 5 killed in Kentucky crash

Family lived in Northville, had deeps ties to Dearborn

By Nick Monacelli - Reporter

DEARBORN, Mich. - There are few, if any words, to describe what loved ones and friends of the Abbas family are dealing with right now.

Losing one family member would be bad enough, but five of them at the same time in the same car crash? It has been unfathomable.

42-year-old Issam Abbas, and Issam's wife, 38-year-old Rima Abbas, along with their three children were killed Sunday morning in a crash on I-75 in Lexington, Kentucky. The couple and their children -- 14-year-old Ali Abbas, 13-year-old Isabella Abbas and 7-year-old Giselle Abbas -- were headed home from a vacation in Florida.

The family lived in Northville, Mich., but had deep ties to the city of Dearborn.

The Abbas family

"I don't remember the last time we were hit with a tragedy like this," said Sam Baydoun, Issam's colleague. "This is going to hit the Dearborn and Dearborn Heights community hard -- it's just a big loss for us."

The driver of the pickup truck that struck their SUV, 41-year-old Joey Lee Bailey, Kentucky, also was killed in the crash. Lexington police said they received a report of a white pickup truck driving in the wrong direction on northbound I-75 just before 2:30 a.m. A crash was reported shortly thereafter. The truck was badly damaged and the SUV caught fire.

The family was traveling home from a holiday trip to Florida. The coroner believes the driver of the truck was under the influence at the time of the crash.

Rima Abbas was a well-known doctor in Garden City with Beaumont Health and the Abbas family was heavily involved in the community. Her husband, Issam, worked as a realtor in the area.

“We are devastated by the tragic loss of Dr. Rima Abbas, her beloved husband and children. She was a caring mother and a dedicated family practice physician. Our hearts go out to all of her family, friends and patients during this difficult time," said Dr. David Wood, Beaumont Health Chief Medical Officer in a statement.

More: Beaumont mourns loss of Metro Detroit doctor, family killed in tragic wrong-way crash

A statement from Northville Public Schools was mailed out to families of students. It can be read below.

Dear Northville Families, Staff and Community members,

It is with deep sadness that we inform you of the death of a Northville family in a tragic car accident early this morning. The Abbas family was travelling home from a vacation in Florida when they were hit head on by a truck travelling the wrong way on the freeway near Lexington, Kentucky. Both parents, and their three children, Ali (8th grade), Isabella (7th grade), and Giselle (2nd grade) died in the crash. The incident remains under investigation. Our hearts go out to this grieving family and all those affected by this tremendous loss.

Please know that support systems will be in place tomorrow, particularly at Hillside and Amerman schools, as students return to school. Teachers and support staff members across the District have been informed of this loss, and will be prepared to support our students and families, and one another. Our school social workers and counselors are available to provide additional support for students and/or staff members as needed. 

You can expect that your child may be affected in some way by this tragedy, even if he or she did not know the family well. It is important to understand that children’s ability to process death varies based on their individual experiences and developmental stages. Giving your child/young adult the opportunity to express his or her thoughts and feelings is crucial in helping your child to work through the grief process. In addition to open, honest communication that normalizes your child’s feelings, providing consistency and routine can help your child cope with death. 

The attached document, Supporting Your Child After the Death of a Family Member or Friend, provided by the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, may be of assistance to you in supporting your child. Additional resources are available through the Coalition, as well as through the Dougy Center/The National Center for Grieving Children and Families.

If you believe your child may be in need of additional help from someone at school, please contact your child’s teacher and/or counselor. We are saddened by this loss and will make every effort to support your child as needed. 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. 

Visitation Monday evening, funeral Tuesday

There will be a visitation for the Abbas family at the Islamic Center of America off Ford Road in Dearborn on Monday from 6 to 8 p.m., and funeral services will be Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

The family will be buried Tuesday at noon at the Islamic Memorial Gardens on Ann Arbor Trail in Westland.

A Fatiha prayer service will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Islamic Center of America.

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