IDAHO FALLS – Funeral director Brian Wood is excited about the new hearse at the Wood Funeral Home in Ammon.
A Rosewood Classic Coach modeled on a 1932 Prinzing, said to have the appearance of a Rolls Royce, arrived on 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 his purpose. The timing of his arrival coincides with the death of Taeloni Robison, a 24-year-old Idaho Falls woman who died over the weekend from a mysterious infection.
These unfortunate circumstances gave Wood a deeper meaning to the purchase 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 she died at a hospital in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday. She was finally treated there after initially being admitted to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in September and then transferred to Intermountain Healthcare in Murray, Utah, about a week later.
Lung failure was ultimately what killed Taeloni, but doctors are puzzled as to what caused it. She was waiting for a lung transplant while struggling to breathe. Doctors pumped oxygen directly into her blood because her lungs had completely solidified, Cindy says.
“Her body was getting enough oxygen, but her brain didn’t know because your body naturally wants to breathe,” explains Cindy. “For her, it was like trying to breathe through a wet piece of cardboard. She just couldn’t breathe… and she felt like she was choking.”
It all started on September 18th. Taeloni, who had always been adventurous and loved mountain biking, volleyball and soccer, suddenly became short of breath.
Nick and Cindy took their daughter to the emergency room and after a CT scan and several tests, the doctors couldn’t find anything definitive but thought it might be pneumonia. She was given antibiotics and sent home.
The next day, Nick says that Taeloni was not well oxygenated and her oxygen levels were low. They took her back to the hospital for more tests, and “there was no sign of infection or anything that could have caused this rapid lung failure.”
After about a week, the hospital staff had reached the limit of what they could do for her and flown it to Utah.
“When we first got to Utah, a doctor said, ‘We spent over a million dollars testing her. There’s not much more we can do and we still don’t have an answer.’ They took a biopsy from her, sent a piece to the Mayo Clinic and another piece to the Center for Infectious Diseases. Both came back with no result,” says Cindy.
Nick says the doctors and nurses were heartbroken and flew Taeloni to Beverly Hills for further treatment.
“It got to the point where they just couldn’t draw blood from her body (because her veins were so swollen),” says Cindy.
After 22 operations, including a tracheostomy, Taeloni remained in good spirits.
“She kept her chin up the whole time. All the nurses loved her because despite everything she was kind and smiling and made everyone feel valued,” says Taeloni’s friend Tommy Gooch.
On Saturday, Taeloni suffered a massive stroke after her lungs failed. She died at 8:39 p.m. Pacific Time.
“A Special Girl”
Although saddened by the death of their daughter, Nick and Cindy express their relief that Taeloni has been “released.”
“There was an insane amount of information from our community,” says Cindy, choking. “Insane. And that’s what helped.”
“I went to work (Tuesday) for a little bit and every person I saw gave me a hug. I lost my composure there,” adds Nick.
And it was surprising for the Robisons to see people they didn’t even know come out of the wood to express how Taeloni helped them and changed their lives.
In hindsight, doctors and nurses say Taeloni was special. She had become everyone’s favorite patient, and the Robisons have made many new friends due to 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 was a saver. She’s always saved money (and she once said to Cindy), ‘I just want to save up so I can help out if someone in our family or a friend of mine needs help with something,'” says Nick. “Twenty-four-year-olds don’t do that. She was a special girl.”
Wood, who went to high school with Nick and was a lifelong friend, is honored that Taeloni’s body will be the first to travel to her final resting place in the Rosewood Classic Coach. And he names the vehicle “Lady Taeloni” in her memory.
“On the front of the car is an angel (hood mascot) with long flowing hair, a bit like Taeloni. The symbolism behind it is that she helps lead people into eternity with grace and elegance, and that’s the kind of girl she was,” says Wood.
Going forward, Wood plans to charge a fee “beyond the cost of a standard hearse.” A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Primary Children’s Hospital on behalf of Taeloni.
The Robisons are planning a celebration of life for Taeloni at the Brickyard Event Center on December 10th. There will be music, food and memories. They haven’t set a definitive time yet, but they invite family and friends to attend.