CLAREMONT — Hundreds gathered in Broad Street Park Saturday night for a candlelight vigil to remember three teens killed in a car crash last week. The vigil was also a celebration of life for the survivor of the crash.
Claremont teens, Brittany Bailey, 18, Brandon Pete Rock, 17, and Jonathan Michael Varnum Jr., 17, were killed in a car crash on West Unity Road Aug. 10.
Bailey graduated from Stevens High School in Claremont in June. Rock and Varnum were to be seniors at Stevens this fall.
Stevens High School senior, Selena Carrier, 17, of Claremont survived the crash, but was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon in critical condition.
“We need to remember the laughter and the joy that they brought us. We need to remember that even though they are not with us that they are with us, and they’ll always be with us in the stories that you tell throughout the year, when you get to be a grownup and have your own children. Remember them please,” said Claremont Middle School teacher Phaedra Laushance, who helped organize the vigil. Laushance previously worked as a longtime school district substitute teacher so she knew the teens as they grew up in elementary, middle and high school.
“Also think of Selena at this time that she gets well soon and recovers quickly,” Laushance said.
At the vigil Rebecca Carrier said her sister Selena is doing a lot better. She was moved to a rehabilitation facility on Saturday, she said.
“Get well Auntie Selena,” said Selena’s three-year-old nephew Tristan when people were invited to speak.
Heather Rock, Brandon Rock’s aunt, thanked the community for their support. She also told the crowd to remember the good times and Brandon’s contagious smile.
“He’ll be missed by everybody. This is a great community. He had great friends that loved him so much,” Rock said.
After an opening prayer, a moment of silence, and some comments, the crowd was invited up into the bandstand to sign cards for the four teens.
Around 8 p.m. balloons were released into the sky for the teens.
When Susan Langle of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Claremont asked the crowd to join her in prayer she said it wasn’t a time for closure.
“I want to ask you tonight for closure, but it is too soon, so I ask that that gift be given to the community eventually,” Langle said in prayer. Instead Langle said she would pray for a community of open, loving hearts. “Hearts that can hold the tears and spill them out. Hearts that can reach out when those around us have no words. Hearts that remember. Hearts that are not afraid to say their names. Hearts that are not afraid to tell the stories again and again. Hearts that do not hesitate to go and knock on the door of a mother, whose heart is breaking.”