by: Tony Thomas Updated:
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Funeral services have been planned for three DeKalb County family members killed last week in a crash on the New Jersey Turnpike.
The announcement came as hundreds of people gathered outside of Stephenson Middle School to remember the family. Jackie Mallett was an administrative assistant at Stephenson. Drew Mallett was a seventh-grade student. Ainsworth Mallett was well known for the restaurant he operated on Rockbridge Road.
"We talk, we eat, we visit each other together-- all the time," said one neighbor of the family as she broke down in tears.
The Malletts were returning from a holiday trip to the Northeast when their car was smashed between two tractor-trailers on the New Jersey Turnpike. The accident happened just after 10 a.m. Thursday.
A relative told the crowd she had worried about the long drive the family was taking and even had warned Ainsworth about the traffic.
"I warned him about the trailers on the streets, the tractor-trailers, but destiny is destiny but as much as we might warn him to be careful. That was his destiny," the relative said.
The family now says it's focusing on the sole survivor of the crash – 18-year-old Nicole Mallett. She walked away with only minor injuries, but the family said she now struggles with the emotional toll of losing her entire immediate family.
"She still has a lot of questions and has to deal with a lot to be 18 years old," said her cousin Michael Romans.
Romans said the a public viewing will be held Friday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Gregory B. Levett and Sons Funeral Home on 4347 Flat Shoals Parkway in Decatur. A wake service will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Funeral services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Tabernacle Assembly of God at 1580 Agape Way in Decatur.