By Alyssa Schnugg
Family and friends of the Ellington family gathered at the Christ Presbyterian Church of Oxford on Monday morning to say goodbye to a father and his two children, all of whom were killed last week in a wreck on Highway 6 East.
The memorial service was held at 11 a.m. at the church and was streamed live for those who could not attend. Close to 100 people attended the service in person while more than 350 people watched online.
Officiating where the Revs. Luke Lawson and Les Newsom, along with Bro. Scott Thomas.
Matt Ellington was driving on Highway 6 East toward the F.D. “Buddy” East Parkway when his vehicle was struck by a Panola County Garbage Truck. He died at the scene. His two children, Evangeline and Lincoln, died later from their injuries.
The three deaths rocked the Oxford and Lafayette County communities. Prayer vigils were held for the family at local churches and at Lafayette County schools. North Oxford Baptist Church organized a fundraiser for the family to help pay for medical bills and funeral expenses.
It’s those efforts that have provided Jessica Ellington – Matt’s wife and the children’s mother – some support after losing her entire world.
On Sunday, Jessica posted a thank you message from herself and family members to the community for their support, prayers and outpouring of love on her Facebook page:
“On Thursday, March 4, 2021, our lives changed forever. Words cannot adequately describe our devastation. We are heartbroken with the loss of my beloved Matt, and precious Evangeline and Lincoln.
“We are overwhelmed and humbled by the generosity and love shown by our church family, friends, the Oxford community, and countless people from across the region and country. With our faith and your outpouring of prayers and support, our family is being carried through this disastrous tragedy. During this journey, we have found great refuge in Isaiah 41:10: ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’”
“We are here today to celebrate and to remember just how wealthy we are to have had Matt, Evangeline and Lincoln with us in the time in which we did,” the Rev. Newsom of Christ Presbyterian said at the start of the service. “But like any treasure that you have, when it’s taken away, we are shaken. And in that shaken state, we tend to look around for something stable to grasp hold of … We have gathered together to cry out to God, together along with this family.”
Matt Ellington worked as a law enforcement officer for the U.S. Forest Service. He and Jessica were married for 14 years.
“He also thrived as the doting father to Evangeline and Lincoln. Whether it was taking nature walks, digging in the dirt, or playing in the snow with his family, Matt’s passion was his wife and children,” states a joint obituary for the three Ellingtons on the Coleman Funeral Home website. “He loved hunting and fishing, but would rather be found with his family baking cookies, decorating gingerbread houses, or leading family devotionals at bedtime. His strength was matched by his humility, and he was honest, loyal, and willing to help anyone.”
Evangeline, who attended Lafayette Elementary School, is described as “feisty and creative, rugged but prissy.” Her brother Lincoln, an adventurous Pre-Ker, loved dragons and was known to be a bit of a daredevil.
“Were it not for the grace, strength, and purpose Christ provides, the grief Jessica now faces in their absence would be impossible to bear. However, because of the faith, she shared together with her husband and children, Jessica’s grief is not without hope as they will be reunited in His presence one day. That is the true legacy of the Ellington family,” states the obituary.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials are sent to the United Cancer Assistance Network (UCAN, 1899 N. Westwood Ste C, PMB#172, Poplar Bluff, MO. 63901) or Lafayette Elementary (100 Commodore Drive, Oxford, MS. 38655) earmarked for STEM or Art programs).