On Saturday night, there were no intercity rivalries or school competitions.
“We are a community here tonight to offer our love to each other and to Dominic DePalma’s family,” said Andy McClure, who led the memorial.
Dominic, a 17-year-old student from Broomfield High School, was identified by organizers as the student who died Thursday in an accident in Lafayette that injured four other unidentified minors. The Boulder County Coroner’s Office has not officially identified him.
Hundreds of people gathered on the grounds near the Broomfield County Commons Park Dog Park on Saturday to light a candle, share a memory or a prayer and offer support for Dominic’s family.
There were tears shed and warm hugs among family and friends as the community remembered Dominic, a longtime Broomfield Soccer Club player with a kind heart and an easy ability to make people laugh.
Caleb Sutterfield will not forget being the shy young boy who showed up to football practice and immediately saw a teammate who joked, laughed and made him feel welcome.
“It’s just who he was. He was always positive, always kind, always happy, always in a good mood,” Sutterfield said on Saturday. “He always had something to laugh about.”
Dominic was a lifelong football player, but he also loved playing video games on Xbox and was known to ask his parents for a few extra minutes of play before family dinners started. His friends could also count on him to stay up late to play.
“You knew it would be 4 a.m.,” a friend joked.
A person who spoke at Saturday’s commemoration recalled a recent game of poker, which involved the usual friendly jabs and jokes. But not from Dominic.
“Dom never said anything mean about anyone,” he said. “He was the nicest person.”
Thursday’s crash is still under investigation, but Broomfield High School principal Ginger Ramsey said in a letter sent to families on Friday that two other students remained in critical condition. The Boulder Valley School District Trauma Team has been activated and counseling will be available from noon to 2 p.m. Monday.
As the sun made its final descent below Front Range during Saturday night’s Celebration of Life, community members were asked to raise their candles to the sky.
“These candles we lit celebrate the memories of our loved one who will always remain in our hearts,” McClure said. “We give thanks for his life and remember the laughs, smiles and happy times that so many of you shared with Dom.”
With hundreds of glowing lights high, the crowd said in unison “We miss you, Dom” – loud enough for him to hear.