Tears and tributes flowed Saturday as hundreds of people gathered in Barrie for a candlelight vigil to honor the lives of six young adults killed in a devastating car accident last weekend.
Family members, friends and teammates comforted each other by sharing stories of their lost loved ones: Curtis King, 22; River Well, 23; Jason Ono-O’Connor, 22; Luke West, 22; Jersey Mitchell; and Haley Marin.
Mourners left bouquets, candles and messages leading to and around the base of the Spirit Catcher sculpture near the downtown Barrie waterfront, surrounding headshots of victims leaning at the base of the statue.
Over the past week, friends and family have praised the young people as future social workers, talented athletes, gifted students and beloved sons and daughters.
“There are no words to be said that will ease the pain these families face,” the vigil organizer said, beginning the service. “The sole purpose of tonight’s vigil is to celebrate the lives of these six young people and to show the families all the love and support our community can provide.”
Curtis King’s father, Jason King, was one of the first to speak at the vigil.
“I think it’s great that our community has come together,” he said. “I’m proud to be Curtis’ father. He was my best friend. He will always be my hero.
Bentley Wells, River Wells’ father, spoke briefly before falling to the ground in tears. “I will never forget any of them,” he said. “I just miss my son. I wish he would come home.
Tara O’Connor, mother of Jason Ono-O’Connor, thanked the crowd for their love and support.
“It is my very personal belief that death is just a change in frequency. I also believe that beyond death’s door lies an indescribable, eternal state of love and freedom,” she said, “We thank all of you who have carried us in your hearts and in your prayers.”
During the service, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman also addressed the crowd, expressing his condolences to the families.
“I think there are no words a mayor, or any other official, can offer in the circumstances that are going to bring comfort,” he said.
“The number of people who are here tonight, and reading all of your posts online…stories about their lives…Seeing it all, it’s clear how much these six young people were loved.”
Lehman also expressed his gratitude to the hundreds of people who had already donated to the GoFundMe page created by Ripple of Kindness, an organization that recognizes and takes action on community needs. The page was created to help the families of lives that have been lost.
The crash, which happened around 2 a.m. on August 28, was in the area of McKay Road and Veterans Drive.
Police have not released many details about the incident, but according to Barrie Chief Administrative Officer and City Manager Michael Prowse, the site is a major construction hole in a city construction project. The intersection has been “fully closed and signed accordingly for many months”.
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