It was a bittersweet homecoming for 65-year-old Thelma Brown on Wednesday. Still recovering from her injuries, Brown sat on the porch outside her North Philadelphia home as hundreds of people gathered outside to wish her well.
"I never thought there would be so many people," Brown said.
Brown was released from the hospital several days after she was hurt during a carjacking hit-and-run that killed three children.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Brown is a family friend and neighbor of 34-year-old Keisha Williams. Williams' three children Joseph Thomas Reed, 10, Keiearra Williams, 15, and Terrence Moore, 7, were struck and killed Friday when a carjacked SUV plowed into a fruit stand where they were volunteering on a street corner on Germantown and Allegheny Avenues.
"Where the girls were standing and the boy, I was standing there too," Brown said. "I remember the car hitting me and I'm going up in the air. And I said, 'oh my God.'"
Keisha Williams was critically injured in the crash. A woman who police say was sexually assaulted by the carjacking suspects was also hurt after her vehicle slammed into a tree.
Brown suffered a broken ankle and bruised sternum. As she mourns the loss of her three young neighbors, she's also dealing with her anger towards the men allegedly responsible. The two suspects in the deadly carjacking and crash - Cornelius Crawford, 23, and Jonathan Rosa, 19 - were charged Monday with second-degree murder, robbery, carjacking, sexual assault and other offenses. On Tuesday investigators revealed that Rosa's own mother brought her son back to police after they questioned and released him earlier in the weekend.
"It hurts me that they would do this and run," Brown said. "There's no hope for them whatsoever."
Brown says she will need months of physical therapy to get back on her feet. Keisha Williams, meanwhile, remains in intensive care but continues to slowly recover.
"She's awake, she's responsive and she's going in the right direction," said Williams' cousin Stephanie Alexander. "All we want to do is bring her home."
Family members say Williams still has not been told about what happened to her children.
The memorial for the young victims at the site of the crash continues to grow with flowers, handwritten messages and stuffed toys. A fundraiser is also being planned this Saturday for Williams and her family.
Family members also confirmed that the funeral for the children will take place on Monday at 11 a.m. at the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 16th and Oxford Streets. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams also announced that NBA legend and former Philadelphia 76er Charles Barkley offered to pay for the funeral expenses.