They stood in line quietly, some clutching children in their arms, waiting to file past five caskets lined in white crepe and adorned with tiny angels. Many left wiping tears from their faces.
Hundreds of mourners circled the large lobby of the March Funeral Home on Wabash Avenue yesterday, waiting to pay their respects to the four children and a mother run down and killed by a car early Thursday morning in Woodlawn.
Baskets of flowers and armloads of stuffed animals arrived steadily, as the people of Baltimore and the surrounding area poured out their hearts to a devastated family. By midafternoon yesterday, more than 1,300 people had come to the funeral home.
Many others phoned to express their sorrow, said funeral home receptionist Sylvia Warren, as she answered call after call.
"I've never seen anything like this, it's so sad," said Mary Ruth Smith, who lives in Woodlawn and was among the hundreds of people patiently waiting in line.
Kim Linair Dorsey, 25, and her two daughters, Chanel, 3, and Keisha, 7, were killed. Karen Fields, 26, Mrs. Dorsey's sister, pulled one of her sons to safety but lost two of her children, Jasmine Little, 4, and Darrian Hough, 7, in the accident.
Meanwhile, at Johnnycake Elementary School in Woodlawn, where three of the children involved in the accident attended school, a Baltimore County school system crisis intervention team was working with parents and their children yesterday.
"A death in a school is a death in a family," said grief counselor Roland Savage.
Nearby were a half-dozen teachers, who came to school voluntarily to reassure their students and help them comprehend the deaths of their schoolmates.
"I know these children -- not just the children involved -- and I'd like them to feel as comfortable as possible," said first-grade teacher Laverne Galloway. "I want them to feel that the crisis intervention team was approachable."
Also among the teachers was Susan Misowitz, who taught Jasmine in pre-kindergarten last year and would have had Chanel in her class this year. "I even had Keisha," she said. "She was a sweetheart.
"To know that I knew three of them. That was really difficult."
She added, "Some of my children who were good friends with Jasmine, they are the ones who I'm thinking of today."
Bridget Boone brought her son, Keith, to the school for counseling. He was in class with Keisha and Darrian, two of the four cousins who died. After hearing about the accident, Keith had asked his mother to take him to the hospital to see them, his mother said. "I said, 'No baby, they have gone to see God,' " Mrs. Boone recalled.
Keith has had trouble sleeping since the accident, she said, "and he wanted to know who would take care of him if something happened to me or his dad."
Keith's reactions are normal, crisis counselor Ellen Kazlauski told Mrs. Boone. Many children fear that they, too, will die. They have bad dreams, sleepless nights, headaches and stomach pains, she said.
Members of the county crisis team also circulated through the funeral home lobby, handing out leaflets with suggestions on how to deal with the grief of children.
County prosecutors said they are awaiting the results of a police investigation before deciding whether to charge Raymond Charles Haney, 32, of Woodlawn, the driver of the car that ran down the victims at a bus stop on Woodlawn Drive near Security Boulevard.
Mr. Haney could face traffic charges, which carry the potential of fines and points on his driving record, or more serious criminal charges of vehicular manslaughter. Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The county police department's lead investigator in the case said Mr. Haney will at a minimum face traffic charges, most likely for speeding and improper passing.
Officer Patrick H. Zito said Mr. Haney was speeding before the accident, contradicting Mr. Haney's explanation that he was forced off the road by another car. Officer Zito said the initial investigation indicates that Mr. Haney was driving at least 40 miles an hour; the speed limit in the area is 30 miles per hour.
Public viewing will continue today from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Rising Sun Baptist Church, 2211 St. Luke's Lane in Woodlawn. Private funeral services will follow at the church at noon. Burial will be at Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery.
Donations to the family may be sent to the Dorsey/Fields Fund, in care of Bryan H. Potts, 1102 Court Square Building, Baltimore, 21202. Information: 727-8666.