Hudson tragedy: Everyone loses as family feud turns sad, solemn funeral into raucous shouting match
Jean Pierre (2nd from left), dad of kids who
died when their mom, Lashanda Armstrong, drove their car into the
Hudson, and Datrice Armstrong (3rd from left), Lashanda's mother, leave
the funeral home.
You would think that having to eulogize
a 5-year-old, a 2-year-old and a baby who didn't make it to her first
birthday is the most terrible thing in the world.
You would be
An even more terrible thing is allowing a family feud -
however understandable - to turn a sad, solemn funeral into a raucous
shouting match in which everyone loses.
That's what happened at
the funeral of Landon, Lance and Lainaina Pierre, who died with their
25-year-old mother, Lashanda Armstrong, when she drove them all into the
Hudson in a suicide plunge on April 12.
Fury erupted after the
children's father, Jean Pierre, gave police a list of 80 people who
should be allowed into the service at the Alphonso E. Brown Funeral Home
in Spring Valley, Rockland County.
Only 18 of the invited
mourners were members of Armstrong's family.
"Enough is enough!"
shouted Gwendolen Green, 48, a nurse and Armstrong cousin whose son was
blocked from entering.
"This side of the family matters, too! You
know it's wrong!"
Green objected to the display of grief shown
by Pierre, who had quarreled with Armstrong on the night of the tragedy
over his philandering and an order of protection she'd gotten against
"He's carrying on so [much] in there, screaming and
hollering. The guilt is filling him up," said Green, who wore
photo-buttons of the children.
"Treat the mother right! Don't
abuse! Pay child support! You're supposed to take care of people when
At the Gethsemene Cemetery in nearby Congers,
relatives from both sides of the family wailed loudly in unison as the
three tiny white coffins were lowered into the ground, fitting together
into one burial plot.
They were supposed to be buried with their
mother in another cemetery last Thursday, but Pierre, 26, stopped that
plan at the last minute, decreeing they should not be buried with the
woman who killed them.
Armstrong's 10-year-old son, Lashaun
Armstrong, who escaped the vehicle by swimming into the frigid waters,
attended his mother's funeral. He stayed home with an aunt yesterday,
relatives said, to spare him more pain.
As gravediggers from the
Nugent Bros. Co. finished their work, one paused to tenderly arrange
three bouquets of white lilies and tiny blue forget-me-nots atop the
grave, right next to the headstone of Cornelius Mahoney, who died at the
age of 95.
Along with the sadness and anger one question loomed:
How could a mother kill her own children?
How could she do it,
no matter how much she wanted to punish their father for cheating on