$31,000 raised for wreck victim families
Just over $31,000 has been raised between two parishes for the Cheatham-Escort family.
St. Mary Parish’s jeans day fundraiser Friday raised $8,486. The three Patterson schools — Hattie Watts, Patterson Junior and Patterson High — raised $5,104 of that total.
The remaining schools participating Friday were Morgan City and Franklin high schools, Berwick and J.A. Hernandez elementary schools, B.E. Boudreaux Middle School and the Central Office Complex.
St. Mary Parish Superintendent of Schools Donald Aguillard said he anticipates the remaining schools in the parish will hold jeans day fundraisers this Friday.
A wreck Feb. 15 claimed the lives of four St. Mary Parish residents: LaDonna Cheatham, 36; two of her children, Marcus Cheatham, 16, and Destiny Cheatham, 6; and her nephew, Dewayne Escort, 14.
Another of Cheatham’s sons, Mark Cheatham, was injured in the accident. Mark Cheatham and Marcus Cheatham attended H.L. Bourgeois High School in Gray.
Louisiana State Police said the accident occurred when Cheatham’s vehicle experienced tire failure and crashed into a school bus carrying the Lafayette High School baseball team on their way to a scrimmage against Berwick High School.
Lafayette High School Principal Patrick Leonard Sr. said his school has collected $23,600 since Friday from students, faculty, administration and the community.
“In my 46 years of being in education, this has blown me out of the water,” Leonard said.
On Friday, the first day the school collected donations, Leonard said the $3,000 goal was easily surpassed. The school raised $11,700 solely from students, faculty and staff donations. He said he made his staff count the money twice because he couldn’t believe the total.
“They opened their hearts and their wallets for a family they’ve never even met yet,” Leonard said.
He added that the $23,600 total includes $7,392 collected on gofundme.com.
Donations, he said, continue to come in and are being deposited at Whitney Bank. The gofundme.com funds have not been released yet.
Byron Jones, administrator of the Whitney Bank account, said as of this morning a total of $12,700 had been deposited.
A gofundme.com account has been established for bus driver, Amy Dore, as well to aid in the replacement of her school bus.
The family fund had $7,392 as of 10:30 a.m., while Dore’s account was at $3,750.
Dore was driving the Lafayette High baseball team in her privately owned school bus.
The bus was totaled in the accident, and, according to the gofundme.com page, Dore still owes on extensive repairs she recently made to her engine prior to the crash.
The page was created “to help Amy pay off her repairs and purchase a new bus. Amy is a hero. She maintained control and saved precious lives that day. The least we can do as a community is help her recoup and get her back rollin’.”
Funeral services for the Cheatham-Escort family have been set for Saturday. Visitation is 9 to 10 a.m. with the funeral immediately following at 10 a.m. at the Siracusa Recreation Center.
Burial will be in the Mechanicville Emmanuel Baptist Church Cemetery in Houma.