Wrangell Sentinel -

By Dan Rudy 

Memorial walk held for car crash victims


Vincent Balansag / Submitted Photo

Just about 100 walkers and their dogs stand together at the end of Wrangell's city dock on Sunday evening, held to remember two teens killed in a Petersburg car crash on July 4.

Close to 100 people participated in a memorial walk on Sunday, held to remember those killed or injured in a car crash in Petersburg early last week.

Meeting at Wrangell's city dock, more than a third of the walkers were from the neighboring community. Organized by local running group Southeast Beasts, the five kilometer (three mile) course was intended to help show support during a time of tragedy. The route taken brought walkers down Front Street from the dock, up to Zimovia Highway and out to Heritage Harbor, where a table had been set up with Gatorade as a refreshment. Participants then doubled back to the post office, concluding the course.

The walk memorialized Molly Parks, 18, and Marie Giesbrecht, 19, who had both passed away as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident early July 4. The driver and another passenger were also injured, and have been hospitalized. Investigation into the incident by Alaska State Troopers is still ongoing.

The sudden loss was deeply felt by the local community. Both had been involved students and volunteers in the community, and were recent graduates. Parks had just earned her diploma from Petersburg High School in May, and Giesbrecht had graduated the previous year. As a result of the news, Petersburg's Independence Day events were cancelled, with a candlelight vigil held that evening.

The loss was felt in Wrangell as well, with a number of residents close to the two teens' families through sports and other extracurricular activities. As one participant noted, Wolves and Vikings fans both came together to support each other in grief.

"We're rivals but we're people, we're neighbors," explained Southeast Beast's director, Lucy Robinson. "We'll support each other in any way we can."

She was pleased by the large turnout, as well as by the generosity that was shown. Donations collected before the walk would be going to support the families of those involved in the accident. By press time Tuesday, Robinson was still collecting and did not have a figure at the ready.

Wrangell-based operator Breakaway Adventures did its part to assist the event as well, conveying walkers from Banana Point to Wrangell and back. The ride was at no cost, though a number of passengers chipped in for fuel expenses.

Robinson said the group was still figuring out how best to divide and forward the funds raised.

"We're going to figure that out as we go," she said.

There are currently several options available to those wishing to contribute. The Giesbrecht family suggested those willing to send donations give to one of Marie's preferred organizations, the Petersburg Humane Society at P.O. Box 1417, or the Friends of Petersburg Libraries at P.O. Box 549; both at Petersburg, AK 99833.

A Molly Parks Memorial Fund has been set up with Wells Fargo Bank, and anyone can stop into their local branch to contribute to it. People can also mail checks to the Wells Fargo branch in Petersburg at P.O. Box 229. As she had been registered to study special education in college, funds donated to the memorial will go toward supporting special education in Petersburg.

Speaking with her family, Petersburg Pilot staff writer Jess Field reported Parks was herself still helping others. An organ donor, Parks' family had been informed by Life Alaska Donor Services her contribution would benefit over 100 individuals, in a variety of ways.

A fund-me page has been set up for Chris Allen, the driver, who has headed to Fairbanks for physical therapy. The site is at http://www.youcaring.com/chris-allen-600410.


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