The family of a young girl killed following a multi-car crash along Interstate 95 earlier this week addressed public backlash posted to a family Facebook page.
Makayla Panella, 10, suffered serious brain trauma on Tuesday night after the Nissan Altima her mother, Nicole Panella, was driving crashed. Police say Panella's car hit an SUV that was forced to stop suddenly to avoid another accident on the highway in Upper Chichester, Pa.
According to the police report, Makayla was in the front seat of the car and was not wearing a seat belt. While Makayla was in critical condition, her family started a public Facebook page Prayers for Makayla to provide updates, share their thoughts on the tragedy and to collect money for medical costs and now funeral costs.
Late last night, the news of Makayla's passing was posted on the page:
"It is with a heavy heart I update you all tonight. Earlier today, it was determined that nothing else could be done for our sweet Makayla. Heaven is blessed with this beautiful angel. Her family and friends would like to thank you all for your outpouring of support, kind words, and prayers."
Along with condolences, most of the comments are supportive.
Kristine Sullivan wrote: "Nicole is an Amazing mother!!!!! Those kids are her world!!! Every parent has had a child or two unbuckle while they were driving and for any parent that says they haven't are liars!!!!! Nicole needs prayers n strength right now negativity is not needed."
However, people are also posting some messages the family feels are harsh, because they directly or indirectly blame the mother.
Within an hour of the post about Makayla's death, the page administrator, who has been deleting the harsh comments, put up this post in an effort to keep the conversation focused on support for the family:
"People I can not express my frustration enough with those of you who feel the need to post comments about how it shouldn't have happened and to "buckle up" and so on and so forth. You have no idea what exactly happened so PLEASE keep you negative opinionated comments to yourself!!!! This family is.dealing with enough pain, guilt and about 50 million other things thwy dont need ignorant comments as reminders. Its a terrible tragic accident and could happen to.any of us! So keep it clean and encouraging or get off.the page!! Thank you!!!"
Nicole Panella, Makayla's mother, and her 4-year-old brother, who was not seated in a proper booster seat in the back of the car, suffered minor injuries and were treated at Crozer-Chester, according to police.
Classmates at Makayla's school, Grace Park Elementary in Ridley Township, Delaware County, wore purple today in her honor. It was Makayla's favorite color.
Makayla's organs are being donated. Funeral arrangements are pending.
"As you can imagine this tragedy has been one of the hardest, if not the hardest, thing we have had to tackle. Outside of our family, the tremendous support we have received from the community and total strangers is completely overwhelming," said cousin MaryAnne DeSantis.