Family facing triple funeral, emotional recovery

Published 12:23 am Wednesday, February 26, 2014

An Andalusia family devastated by the loss of a father and two young children in a Sunday car accident is taking its first steps towards healing this week.

Jessica Gibson Douglas and her seven-year-old daughter Haley Vendetti survived the accident that claimed the life of their husband and father, Matthew Kenneth Douglas, 30, as well as the lives of three-year-old Jordan and two-year-old Ryan Douglas.

Jessica Douglas’ sister-in-law, Theresa Davis, said mother and daughter are physically stable after being ejected from the family’s pick-up truck when it overturned on Rockhole Bridge Road Sunday evening.

“(Jessica) got her whole right side scraped up and bruised up,” Davis said. “(Haley) just got a few bruises on her face. She was the least injured.”

Davis said both Douglas and Vendetti have been released from the hospital, but now must start the emotional healing that begins with a triple-funeral Thursday.

“(Jessica’s) just trying to get through it all,” Davis said. “She’s just trying to plan things out this week.”

Davis said the accident, which is still under investigation by the Alabama State Troopers office, was at least partially the product of innocent horseplay gone wrong.

“Matt was messing with the steering wheel and making it wobble just a little bit,” she said. “The kids were laughing and he sped up the last time and just lost control.”

Davis said the location of the accident on a rural road left Douglas and Vendetti searching for help in the moments following the crash.

“They were leaving our house that night,” she said. “They had been doing some laundry and they were headed home. They took a back road. Jessica said when she got up (after the crash), she was looking for the two youngest babies and she was in knee-deep stream.”

Eventually, Davis said, it was Vendetti’s poise that led the pair to safety.

“Her and Haley actually saw a porch light on and Haley had to pull her away from the vehicle and tell her they had to go get help,” Davis said. “Haley was pretty much her crutch, because she could barely walk.”

Pictured are, in back, Matthew and Jessica Douglas and, in front, from left, Ryan Douglas, Haley Vendetti and Jordan Douglas.

Pictured are, in back, Matthew and Jessica Douglas and, in front, from left, Ryan Douglas, Haley Vendetti and Jordan Douglas.

Davis said an account, dubbed the Jessica Gibson Fund, has been set up at Andalusia’s Southern Independent Bank in order to help the family cover the costs of medical bills, funeral arrangements and other needs. Because the family had been doing laundry prior to the accident, Davis said, Vendetti is also in need of size 7 clothing, as well as girls’ size 12 or 13 shoes.

“All of her clothes were in the bed of the truck when it overturned,” she said.

Davis said Matthew and Jessica Douglas had been married for about five years. Matthew Douglas also has a daughter, Mallory Douglas, from a previous marriage.

Funeral services for Matthew, Jordan and Ryan Douglas will be held tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. at Bradley Assembly of God.