AL woman killed by fire ants in Selma day after her mother dies
SELMA, AL (WSFA) - It's a story so tragic, it's almost hard to believe. A central Alabama family buried a mother and grandmother Thursday, at a double funeral.
The women passed away just a day apart, under rare and devastating circumstances.
The grief weighing on Sheila Rolan's shoulders is almost too much to bear.
"Losing a mother and a daughter together, back-to-back within a day, it's a lot for a person to take on," said Rolan.
Her daughter-in-law, Kalyn Rolan, was in Selma on May 20, making funeral arrangements for her mother, Roberta Lynn, who had died just the day before. Family members say she was on a haystack talking with someone on the phone when she was attacked by fire ants.
"The ants started coming out and getting all over her and she came off the haystack and my son said he grabbed her and put her on the ground, took her clothes off trying to help her to save her but he couldn't save her," said Rolan.
According to family members, Kalyn is severely allergic to fire ants and started swelling to the point where she couldn't breathe.
"She died in my son's arms. I can only imagine what he's going through right now, you know, and then having to save her mother too," said Rolan.
The 29-year-old leaves behind a husband and two young boys.
"I wish I could do more for him, I wish I could take that load off of him," said Rolan.
Kalyn's best friend remembers the good times.
"She'd be in a really bad mood, but she'd always laugh at me and tell me 'you crazy girl'; we just had a good time all the time," said Regina Tatum.
Tatum urges anyone with severe allergies to get an Epipen.
"There's nothing really that you can do, nothing you can say because there's nothing that is going to bring her back," said Tatum.
To give you an idea as to how rare this tragedy is, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health Center for Health Statistics, in 2013, 2014 and 2015 combined, there were three deaths by yellow jackets or bees and one death by a snake, but no reported deaths by ants in Alabama.
The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help offset funeral costs.
"Having to bury two people, even on both sides, trying to come up with money its hard," said Rolan.
A fundraiser was hosted on Saturday at the Prattville Waffle House, off Highway 14 (the Millbrook Exit). Heart-cakes were sold for $5 in Kalyn's honor to benefit the family.
Copyright 2016 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.