Locals raise thousands in donations for all 6 killed in Barrie car crash

·5 min read
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman tweeted out a link to a GoFundMe run by a community group that identifies all six of the young victims of last weekend's car crash on a road that was closed to traffic. They are, from top left to right: Jason O'Connor, Jersey Mitchell, Curtis King, Luke West, Haley Marin and River Wells. (Ripple of Kindness/GoFundMe - image credit)
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman tweeted out a link to a GoFundMe run by a community group that identifies all six of the young victims of last weekend's car crash on a road that was closed to traffic. They are, from top left to right: Jason O'Connor, Jersey Mitchell, Curtis King, Luke West, Haley Marin and River Wells. (Ripple of Kindness/GoFundMe - image credit)

A group of women in Barrie is hoping to raise $60,000 for the six young people killed in a car crash on a closed road in Barrie, Ont., last weekend.

Ripple of Kindness, with support from Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, has raised more than $11,000 for the families of Luke West, Curtis King, River Wells, Haley Marin, Jersey Mitchell and Jason O'Connor. They were killed in a single-vehicle collision in the south end of Barrie, about an hour north of Toronto, and were found early Sunday morning.

"While this is beyond our usual scope to raise funds, we feel these are extenuating circumstances," the fundraiser reads.

"Our community has been shaken to the core, our flags are at half mast and six families are devastated at the loss of their loved ones. Let's come together as a community and show our support."

According to the fundraiser website, the group has established a committee with group members and a representative from each family to allocate the funds.

Grieving families mourn 6 at crash site

On Monday evening, grieving family members tossed flowers into a concrete pit as they mourned the six young adults.

A detective who helped escort the family members up to a barrier at the lip of the pit told The Canadian Press that it was the site of the single-vehicle crash.

Family members of the victims declined to speak with media at the scene.

They could be seen wrapping their arms around each other as they placed bouquets around the perimeter of the pit, and dropped flowers into it over a metal fence.

A makeshift memorial could be seen nearby, with cards carrying the names of those who died.

The wreck was discovered by police early Sunday, after the six people were reported missing a day earlier.

Paul Smith/CBC
Paul Smith/CBC

On Monday, the City of Barrie said the crash took place on a municipal construction site that has been closed to vehicle traffic for several months.

According to police, an officer found the crash scene at about 2 a.m. Sunday in the area of McKay Road and Simcoe County Road 27.

WATCH | Victims of Barrie car crash were all in their early 20s: 

The city said the area, located near the main construction site on McKay Road and Veteran's Drive, was closed and managed by contractors for ongoing water, sewer and road work.

"We were [devastated] to hear the news of an accident in the area," said City Manager Michael Prowse in a release.

"This is an active Barrie Police investigation and as always if there is anything the City staff can do to assist, we will."

The city says it is thinking of all the friends and family of the six people killed and has lowered all flags at city hall.

Local sports leagues, friends mourn victims

Police say the victims are believed to have been in their 20s. West, King and Wells were well-known athletes in the community; Mitchell was still trying to decide where to go to post-secondary school, and Marin was a social work student at Georgian College in Barrie, a friend says.

"It's heart-wrenching," said Loren Mathias, a close friend and former classmate of Mitchell and Marin. They all attended Barrie North Collegiate together.

"These are people that had so much life ahead of them and so many plans ... The community feels like we've been cheated."

Mathias said she met Marin, 21, in elementary school 10 years ago, and met Mitchell in a Grade 10 science class. They developed an "all-around really special friendship," she told CBC Toronto.

Paul Smith/CBC
Paul Smith/CBC

Mitchell, 20, was caring and kindhearted, Mathias says. She was passionate about outdoor activities like cheerleading and hunting, but cared about her family and friends more than anything.

"She always loved to goof around; she always loved to make people laugh," said Mathias.

She described Marin as "family-oriented" and a "really loyal friend" who was passionate about issues of addiction and mental health.

"She always wanted to make sure that people around her succeeded," said Mathias.

Police are still investigating and haven't provided any more information. Lehman has previously urged residents not to speculate about the cause of the crash, calling it a "shocking and horrible tragedy."

But information circulating on social media has provided a glimpse into who the victims were.

Luke West was a lacrosse player and coach who played the sport almost his entire life, according to the Bombers Junior C Lacrosse Club.

"We love you, we miss you, and we are grateful for the time that we had with you," reads a shared Twitter statement from the club and the association.

According to Simcoe County Football, Curtis King and River Wells were former athletes who played for the Innisdale Invaders and Barrie North Vikings.

"We not only remember these great athletes for what they did on the field, but remember the great people they were in life," reads an Instagram post from the football league.

In a separate tribute, the Barrie Bruisers Flag Football team identified Wells as a "fierce competitor and an exceptional athlete" who will be missed by many.

Three other online fundraisers have been established for the King, Wells and Marin families, which have all garnered thousands of dollars as of Monday morning. The Kings' fundraiser has since stopped taking donations.

Jason Wright, who identified himself as King's birth father, says his son was full of life and always willing to help anyone and everyone. Talking briefly to CBC Toronto, he expressed his condolences to the other families affected and asked for them all to be given privacy.

"I just ask everyone, please, give all of the affected families some time to grieve," Wright said.