Updated 04/22/2011 06:05 AM
Family and friends say farewell to LaShanda Armstrong
Hundreds of people paid their final respects to the woman at the center of the tragic Hudson River drowning last week. Our Elaina Athans was among those who attended LaShanda Armstrong's funeral..
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SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. -- Loved ones gather a funeral service for LaShanda Armstrong, the mom who took her and her kids lives last week in Newburgh.
"It's such a loss of precious children and of her too. She's valuable. They were valuable," said Vanessa Green, a cousin of LaShanda Armstrong.
The family of LaShanda Armstrong coming out to say their final goodbyes to the 25-year-old at a service in Spring Valley.
"She was a beautiful person and I love her and I'm going to always miss her," said Angela Gilliam, an aunt of LaShanda Armstrong.
Gospel music and prayer filled the First Baptist Church. The family calls the ceremony happy and uplifting. They say it's a fitting way to honor the young mom, who moved to Newburgh for a fresh start and was taking college classes. That was before she drove her minivan in the Hudson River.
Green said, "I wish that she felt she had other options because we were here for her, but you know, sometimes when a lot of stuff comes down on you, you feel you don't have options."
Armstrong's kids were supposed to be buried with her. The children's father, however, requested they have a separate burial and Armstrong's family obliged. But not everyone in her family was happy about the change.
"Even in death, some men control things," said Green.
“After consulting with the Armstrong family, I have decided that the funeral arrangements for Landen, Lance and Laianna should be separate from that of Lashanda's. My deepest sympathy goes out to La'Shaun and the Armstrong family. I ask that I be given the opportunity to grieve the loss of my three children privately. I have been inaccurately portrayed as being directly responsible for the tragedy. If I could, I would have changed some things in my past. I loved Landen, Lance, Laianna, Lashanda and still love La'Shaun with all my heart, and am shocked and distraught by what happened. This has been a very devastating tragedy for all concerned, and I would like to thank everyone who has expressed their sympathy and support.”