New custom hearse to preserve memory of local woman who passed away over the weekend
IDAHO FALLS – Funeral Director Brian Wood is ecstatic about the new hearse at Wood Funeral Home in Ammon.
A Rosewood Classic Coach modeled after a 1932 Prinzing, which is designed to have the appearance of a Rolls Royce, arrived at the business Sunday after more than a year of waiting.
It’s the first hearse delivery of its kind in Idaho, Wood wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday, and as exciting as that is, he doesn’t want the acquisition to detract from its purpose. The timing of its arrival coincides with the death of Taeloni Robison, a 24-year-old Idaho Falls woman who passed away from a mysterious infection over the weekend.
These unfortunate circumstances have given the purchase a deeper meaning for Wood, and he has a special purpose in mind for the vehicle.
“We decided to dedicate the car to Taeloni,” Wood tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Taeloni’s parents, Nick and Cindy Robison, are awaiting the arrival of their daughter’s body in Idaho Falls after her passing at a hospital in Beverly Hills, California, on Saturday. That’s where she was ultimately treated after initially being admitted to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in September and transferred to Intermountain Healthcare in Murray, Utah about a week later.
A failure of the lungs is ultimately what killed Taeloni, but doctors are puzzled about what caused it. She was waiting for a lung transplant while struggling to breathe. Doctors were pumping oxygen directly into her blood because her lungs had completely solidified, Cindy says.
“Her body was getting enough oxygen, but her brain didn’t realize that because your body just naturally wants to take a breath,” Cindy explains. “For her, it was like trying to breathe through a wet piece of cardboard. She just couldn’t get any air … and she felt like she was suffocating.”
It all began on Sept. 18. Taeloni, who was always adventurous and loved mountain biking, volleyball and soccer, was suddenly experiencing shortness of breath.
Nick and Cindy took their daughter to the ER, and after a CT scan and several tests, doctors couldn’t pinpoint anything specific but thought it might be pneumonia. She was given antibiotics and sent home.
The next day, Nick says Taeloni wasn’t oxygenating well and her oxygen levels were low. They took her back to the hospital for more tests, and “there was no sign of any infection or anything that could’ve caused that rapid lung failure.”
After about a week, the hospital staff had reached the limit of what they could do for her and airlifted her to Utah.
“When we were first in Utah, a doctor said, ‘We’ve done over a million dollars in testing on her. There’s not much more we can do, and we still don’t have an answer.’ They biopsied her, sent one piece to the Mayo Clinic and another piece to the Infectious Disease Center. Both of those came back inconclusive,” Cindy says.
Nick says the doctors and nurses were heartbroken and airlifted Taeloni to Beverly Hills for further care.
“It got to the point where they just weren’t able to draw blood from anywhere on her body (because her veins were so swollen),” Cindy says.
After 22 surgeries, including a tracheotomy, Taeloni remained in good spirits.
“She kept her chin up the entire time. All the nurses loved her because, through all this, she was kind and would smile and make sure everyone felt appreciated,” Taeloni’s boyfriend, Tommy Gooch, says.
On Saturday, Taeloni had a massive stroke after her lungs had failed. She passed away at 8:39 p.m. Pacific time.
‘A special girl’
Though saddened by the death of their daughter, Nick and Cindy express relief that Taeloni has been “set free.”
“There has been a crazy amount of outpour from our community,” Cindy says, choking up. “Insane. And it’s what’s helped.”
“I went to work (Tuesday) for a little bit, and every person I saw gave me a hug. That’s when I lost it,” Nick adds.
And it’s been surprising for the Robisons to see people they don’t even know come out of the woodwork to express how Taeloni has helped them and made a difference in their life.
In the aftermath, doctors and nurses say there was something special about Taeloni. She had become everyone’s favorite patient, and the Robisons have many new friends because of Taeloni’s influence.
Cindy describes her daughter as an “old soul” who was born with a special ability to love others and make friends everywhere she went.
“She was a saver. She always saved money (and she told Cindy one time) ‘I just want to save so that if anyone in our family or one of my friends needs help with something, I’ll be able to help them out,'” Nick says. “Twenty-four-year-olds don’t do that. She was a special girl.”
Wood, who went to high school with Nick and has been a lifelong friend, is honored that Taeloni’s body will be the first one to ride in the Rosewood Classic Coach to her final resting place. And he’s naming the vehicle “Lady Taeloni” in her memory.
“On the front of the car is an angel (hood ornament) with long, flowing hair, kind of like Taeloni. The symbolism behind it is that she’s helping lead people into the eternities with grace and elegance, and that’s the kind of girl she was,” says Wood.
Going forward, Wood is planning to charge a fee “above and beyond” what it costs for a standard hearse. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Primary Children’s Hospital in Taeloni’s name.
The Robisons are planning a celebration of life for Taeloni at the Brickyard Event Center on Dec. 10. There will be music, food, and memories. They haven’t finalized a time yet, but they invite family and friends to attend.