Nearly 1,000 friends, family members and Lodi residents filled St. Anne•s Catholic Church on Thursday to honor and remember the Miranda family.
Much of the 200 block of Walnut Street was cordoned off with yellow tape Thursday morning to accommodate funeral hearses.
The funeral and Mass, held entirely in Spanish, began at 9:30 a.m. with a recitation of the Rosary. At 10 a.m., Father Mario Guarin of St. Anne•s led the Mass.
Five caskets draped with white palls were escorted into the parish and brought to the front of the congregation.
During the Mass, Guarin told more than 900 guests that it remains a mystery why the Mirandas were involved in a tragic accident that claimed the lives of all but one of their family.
He added, though, that the members of St. Anne•s Parish are a large family and must come together and remain united during such a tragic time, for the sake of the relatives of the Miranda family.
Luis Miranda Ochoa, 32, and his wife Vivian Rodriguez Salgado, 31, were killed the evening of Oct. 22 at the intersection of Ham Lane and Vine Street, along with three of their children Irvin, 12, Jose Luis, 6, and Stephanie, 5 as well as Miranda and Rodriguez•s unborn child.
Police said the suspect, 28-year-old Lodi resident Ryan Morales, was speeding along Ham Lane and struck the Mirandas vehicle at about 5:22 p.m. on Oct. 22. The Mirandas had just picked Irvin up from Lodi Middle School•s Bridge Program, which provides free afterschool education, homework assistance and enrichment opportunities.
The school is located at the intersection where the Mirandas were struck and killed.
Police have stated Morales was talking on his cellphone at the time of the collision, and eyewitnesses said he was exceeding speeds of 80 miles an hour. Police also said that they learned late last week Morales had been drinking at home with his father an hour and a half before the collision, and may have been driving under the influence of alcohol.
The crash involved six vehicles and left 12 other people injured, including 9-year-old Eden Miranda, the only survivor from the family.
Authorities announced earlier this week they will pursue murder charges against Morales, who is currently in critical condition at a local hospital. Police are waiting for his health to improve before arresting him, reports state.
Following the Mass, Guarin, Deacon Greg Yeager and Father Brandon Ware led the Communion. The caskets were blessed with holy water and incense before being escorted back out of the parish to Walnut Street with family members in tow just after 11 a.m.
Family members and friends wiped tears from their eyes as they followed the caskets out of the church.
Once outside, each casket was loaded into five white hearses parked in front of the church and driven away while family and friends looked on.
The Mexican Consulate in Sacramento said the bodies will be flown to the Mirandas home state of Guerrero, Mexico, where relatives will hold another funeral.
Eden Miranda remains in critical condition at UC Davis Medical Center. Relatives are still deciding who will come to Lodi from Guerrero to retrieve the bodies and take custody of the boy.
Yeager said the family contacted St. Anne•s for the funeral because they knew we had a large parish for something like this. And we were more than happy to accommodate them.•
Mass was followed by a reception at St. Anne•s Hall across the street.