One by one, they said their goodbyes with flowers.
A tearful Charles Dorsey IV placed yesterday a white rose on his wife's casket and pink roses on his two daughters' caskets. Other relatives and friends followed his lead at the Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery until there were five white caskets covered with roses, gladiolas and carnations.
Hundreds of people gathered in yesterday's sweltering heat to pay their respects to the woman and four children killed in Thursday's bus stop accident in Woodlawn. Kim Linair Dorsey, 25, her two children, and a niece and nephew died when a car jumped a curb and crashed into them.
"You can't help but to be touched by something like this," said Jean Witherspoon, a Woodlawn resident on maternity leave from her job. "It shows that you can't take anything for granted. I knew I had to see them today."
Many mourners, including Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Rep. Kweisi Mfume, visited the Rising Sun First Baptist Church in Woodlawn, where the bodies were laid out in open caskets that included toys and family photos.
Most of the visitors said they were neither friends of the victims nor family acquaintances, but were touched by an accident that could have happened to anyone.
"When one family is hurt, we all are hurt," said Mary Dixon, an Irvington resident who felt compelled to visit.
Mothers and sons. Fathers and daughters. People in security uniforms. Young men in hospital scrubs. Police officers and emergency workers. They filed into the church from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m., walking past the pews to view the bodies, laid side by side in front of the pulpit.
"It's not easy," the Rev. Herbert W. Watson Jr., the first fire and police chaplain at the accident scene, said as he paid his respects at the church. "I had to look at four children and a mother . . . a beautiful family.
"This has been the worse scene I've dealt with so far, probably because of the fact that they were from one family."
Young Robinson, a Baltimore saleswoman, took a half-day off to bring her two sons and a daughter to the viewing.
"They looked so peaceful," Ms. Robinson said. "I know they went to a good place."
The first casket held 8-year-old Darrian Quinton Hough, a quiet child who loved to draw and to play alone with his toy cars and toy men, his family said. In his casket was tucked a white Power Ranger figure and a tiny beige stuffed bear. Remembered as "The Man," Darrian had hoped to be a doctor when he grew up.
Next to her brother was Jazmin Marisa Little, 5, in a white party dress and little pearl earrings. Jazmin loved riding her bicycle, playing with her dolls and spending time with her two brothers, the family said.
In the middle was Kim Dorsey, a Northern High School graduate who she started working for the patient accounts department at the Johns Hopkins Hospital two years ago.
Mrs. Dorsey, described as a person who loved to read and laugh and spend time with her family, was dressed in the wedding gown she wore five years ago when she married her husband, Charles.
In caskets lying to the left were her daughters, Chanell Chastity Dorsey, 3, and Keisha Renee Dorsey, 7, both wearing white dresses adorned with seed pearls.
Chanell, remembered for her constant smile, bright eyes and beautiful hair, loved to share things with others -- especially her bubble gum.
Keisha, who would have been a third-grader at Johnnycake Elementary School, was on the school honor roll and was a member of the softball and ballet teams. Family members said she loved to sing and dance and take care of sister Chanell.
Many left the small, red-brick church in tears.
"It hurts," said a crying Nova A. Adams, the Woodlawn police precinct matron who helped family members deal with their grief on the day of the accident.
"My heart is broken for the family," she said. "I have kids. I have grandchildren. It could have been one of them."
The viewing was followed by a private noon service for family and friends; many others waited outside on the church lawn. Every seat was taken, and people stood in the aisles of the church, which holds about 550 people.
As the immediate family walked toward the church, they were sheltered by protective friends. They entered the vestibule, clinging and holding onto each other.
"This tragedy is a family catastrophe," said the Rev. Emmett C. Burns Jr., Rising Sun's pastor, in his eulogy. "Never in all my 31 years of ministry have I been called upon to meet such an awesome challenge. . . . These children knew no hate, no racism, no heartaches and pains. As painful as it is to us, they are happy with God."
Mr. Schmoke, who also addressed the congregation, said after the service, "This loss affected people throughout the region. It was not just a county loss, it affected people all over the world.
"I didn't try to explain it because you can't explain it. . . . There was so much potential there waiting to make contributions to the community. Now that's all destroyed."
Wiping tears, Mr. Mfume said he wanted to support the survivors.
"It's pretty much what brought everybody else here," he said outside the church. "The pain of the tragedy that has happened and realizing that it could have been any of our children, any of our family. It's to show and say to the survivors that although it was not us, we do understand."