Updated October 23, 2020 - 4:24 pm
Inside the tiny, pastel-pink casket lay Sayah Malaysia Deal’s body, her hair wrapped in pink and white ribbons. Nestled beside the 1-year-old girl, as though she had simply been put down for a nap, was a teddy bear that will never be named.
Sayah, just a few months shy of her second birthday, died on the afternoon of Oct. 5, after she spent at least an hour locked inside her father’s brand new car. Las Vegas police have said that Sidney Deal, 28, initially refused to break a window to rescue his daughter. That day, temperatures peaked to 96 degrees. Deal now stands accused of felony child abuse.
“Am I not worth more than a window?” Pastor Ronnie Smith, speaking “from the child’s point of view,” questioned Friday morning as he delivered the eulogy.
The room inside Tried Stone Baptist Church in North Las Vegas exploded with noise, as more than a hundred of Sayah’s family members on her mother’s side clapped and nodded their heads in agreement. Some stood up. Most cried. One yelled, “Exactly!”
Friday morning’s celebration of life was hosted by the girl’s mother, Mariah Coleman. She and Deal, who remains on house arrest, were not together but shared custody of Sayah. It’s unclear whether a second service will be held by Deal’s family.
JUSTICE 4 SAYAH
At the Friday service, Sayah’s family members wore the color pink — her favorite — and shirts, face masks and vests that read a clear demand: JUSTICE 4 SAYAH.
“He had no remorse in his mug shot,” Coleman, 28, previously told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “My baby is gone, and I need somebody to do time.”
During the eulogy, Smith, the pastor, questioned the actions of Sayah’s father, the police and witnesses.
“All of those people standing around, but nobody helped me,” Smith said, still speaking from the girl’s perspective. “All of those looking in, and nobody helped me.”
Officers eventually smashed a window to get to Sayah, but by then, her body was in “rigor mortis,” according to Deal’s arrest report.
Coleman sat at the front of the small church during Friday’s service, tears streaming down her cheeks from beneath large sunglasses.
Smith looked down at Coleman and smiled.
“We look back at October the 5th, and we say in our minds and our heart, ‘What a tragedy,’” Smith said. “But what you call a tragedy, God calls a transformation.”
That day, Smith said, Sayah transformed into an angel.
“Sayah is saying to us now: ‘I don’t have to worry no more. I don’t have to cry no more,’” Smith said. “Because when Jesus came and got me, I found something I didn’t have. I found peace.”
At the conclusion of the pastor’s eulogy, funeral directors opened the pink casket, revealing Sayah’s tiny body to her mother and family members.
Known as the “turn up princess,” Sayah loved to dance — especially to her favorite song, “Baby Shark.” So, on Friday, as her family approached the casket one by one to say goodbye, “Baby Shark” played on repeat.
Coleman sat still in her seat, waiting for her turn, but when a certain part of Sayah’s favorite song came on, she nodded her head to the beat.
“Mommy shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo,” the song goes.
Coleman stood up and approached her daughter’s body. Gripping the edge of the casket, she looked down at Sayah, taking in all of her features. After a few minutes, Coleman turned and walked out of the church, into the arms of her family members.
In addition to her parents, Sayah is survived by her sister, Akkiah Blalock, and brothers Kash and Samajai Deal.
A preliminary hearing in the child abuse case against Sayah’s father is scheduled for Dec. 3. At the conclusion of the hearing, a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for Deal to stand trial.