Hundreds attend vigil for, recall memories of young family of 5 that died in Jessamine crash

lblackford@herald-leader.comJune 29, 2014 

NICHOLASVILLE — When Brandy Tolson was in labor with her daughter, her friend Steven Hibbard snuck some Kentucky Fried Chicken into the delivery room.

"I said I was hungry, so he brought it in," Tolson said. "I don't even like chicken!"

She tried to laugh, but it turned into a sob, a common problem for the many people who remembered Steven Hibbard, his wife, Shaila, and their three children at a vigil on Sunday evening.

The Hibbard family — Steven, 25; Shaila, 26; Kylee Jo, 3; Alyssa, 5; and James Tanner Phillips, 7 — was killed Thursday night when their station wagon crossed the center line of U.S. 27 and slammed into an oncoming minivan. One of the passengers in the van, Angelia Denise Poe, 48, of Virginia also was killed, and four other passengers were seriously injured. The accident is still under investigation.

On Sunday, family and friends gathered at the football field at County-City Park on the outskirts of Nicholasville. They remembered a young family who had fun and did good, helping others in their lives.

Tolson and Brittney Reidenbaugh had T-shirts printed with a photo of the Hibbard family on the front, and the words "Redneck Crazy" on the back.

"He had that on his car," Reidenbaugh said. "He was as country as country gets."

"The most lovable redneck ever," Tolson added. The two women also wore camouflage bandanas in their back pockets in Steven's honor.

Steven Hibbard's mother, Sabra Taylor, said she wasn't surprised by the crowd of 200 to 300 people who attended the vigil.

"My son was very loved by people, and he loved life," she said. "There was nobody he didn't help."

The community has responded. Friends said local businesses had made numerous donations to the family for funeral expenses.

One by one, speakers at the vigil relayed their memories. Many were overcome by tears.

Travis Greer tried to inject a lighter note. He said he grew up with Steven, went to school with Shaila, and set them up on their first date. "Every day after that, Shaila blamed me: 'Look I've got kids with him, now I'm stuck with him,'" Greer joked. "Shaila always stood beside him; it didn't matter what it was."

Greer recalled firecracker fights in the neighborhood with Steven, but for all the fun times, he said, Steven tried to keep his friends on the right path.

"It's a tough loss for everybody," Greer continued. "I'll try not to cry. He would love to see me cry, so I can't do it."

As thunder rumbled in the distance, friends lit their candles and released balloons that floated into the cloudy sky.

"He and Shaila fit together, they loved together," Taylor said. "They took care of everyone they knew together."

Hager and Cundiff Funeral Home is handling the Hibbard family's arrangements. A service is to be held at New Fellowship Church, but the date has not been set.

Linda Blackford: (859) 231-1359. Twitter: @lbblackford.

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