A year after four high-school students were killed by an alleged drunk driver, devastating the city of Grande Prairie, family and friends say the wounds are beginning to heal.
Hundreds of people gathered Saturday night on the football field at Grande Prairie Composite High School, where the four teens played for the Grande Prairie Warriors, for a candle light vigil to remember Borden-Wilkins, 15, Tanner Hildebrand, 15, Matthew Deller, 16, and Vince Stover, also 16.
Stover’s mother, Jenny Wilson, says the vigil had a much different feeling than a similar gathering held last year in the wake of the deaths.
“I think it was more, more supportive. And just a collective feeling that the boys aren't forgotten and people still think about the families. And Grande Prairie still sticks together,” she said.
The four students were driving on a road just outside of the city when their vehicle was allegedly struck by a pick-up truck just after midnight on October 22, 2011.
All four were killed, while a fifth friend, Zack Judd, suffered serious injuries which would keep him in the hospital for weeks.
Wilson said the past year has been hard on herself and the families of the other boys. Saturday’s memorial was reminiscent of the one held a year ago, with hundreds wearing the football team’s signature orange colour.
“The support of Grande Prairie. It’s probably what got us through. So we wanted to do it again, I guess,” she said.
“I’m glad that he’s not being forgotten, and that people still think of him and miss him.”
Orange will also be a common sight at high school Monday, as staff and students wear the colour in honour of the anniversary of the crash.
“It was a community in grief. The orange is certainly a symbol … it’s a time that we’ll always remember,“ said Carol-Anne MacDonald, superintendent of the Grande Prairie public school district.
MacDonald said more support staff will be in the schools around the anniversary to help students and staff cope.
“We want them to know … it’s OK to be sad. And a year later, it’s still OK to be sad.”
The man accused of driving the other vehicle, 21-year-old Brenden Holubowich, was no seriously injured in the crash. He allegedly fled the scene and was arrested shortly after.
Holubowich faces 11 charges in the crash, including four counts of impaired driving causing death and failure to remain at the scene.