Friday, January 12, 2018

Telegraph Journal: Family, Friends Gather at Boys in Red Vigil for 10th Anniversary

  Isabelle Hains holds a vigil each Jan. 12 at the Boys in Red memorial along Route 8.
Her son Daniel died in the accident that killed seven Bathurst High School
basketball players and the coaches wife.
Photo: K. Bryannah James/The Northern Light
by Bryannah James for the Northern Light

To view original article in Telegraph Journal, click here.

Candles flickered beside the 'Boys in Red' highway memorial in the early morning hours Friday as mourners gathered for a moment of silence to honour seven young basketball players and a teacher who lost their lives a decade ago.

People bowed their heads as the clock struck 12:08 a.m., marking 10 years since the Bathurst High School Phantoms - Javier Acevedo, Codey Branch, Nickolas Quinn, Nathan Cleland, Daniel Hains, Justin Cormier and Nicholas Kelly - and Elizabeth Lord, their coach's wife, were killed when their 15-passenger van collided with a tractor-trailer.

There was no noise from the highway as Isabelle Hains, Daniel's mother, was embraced by friends in front of the basketball net memorial. Each year since 2008, Hains has held a vigil at the crash site in memory of the boys.

"This is where the place my son was at his last moment," she said. "And I feel for me this is the place I need to be every year. I just feel that I need to come here [and] light the candles, remember the boys, especially on this highway."

Hains prepares the site for the vigil each year. She digs out the site, washes the teddy bears left for the boys from years past, brushes the snow from the backboard to reveal the photos of the seven players and strings lights around the net. On Friday, these lights twinkled in stark contrast to the clear, black night stretching along the highway.

Vehicles lined the road as members of the community made the trek to the net down a snow-packed path flanked by three-foot high walls of snow.

Maggie Lavigne has come to the vigil every year since the accident.

"We talk and we just share all the memories. We keep their memory alive - that's the main thing," she said.

Lavigne brought a teddy bear for Daniel like she has every year since the accident. This one will be placed beside two others already zip-tied to the white cross in his memory. The cross stands about 20 feet from the basketball net.

"He was a big teddy bear - that's Dan," said Lavigne.

Lavigne's nephew was a friend of Daniel in high school and she's friends with Isabelle.

"Dan was like, a big part of our life. He was always around my house," she said..

Those who gathered at the memorial chatted, sometimes laughing, others remaining quiet as the rumble of transport trucks and vehicles echoed along the highway.

Emergency flashers from a police car parked on the shoulder of the road are a reminder for motorists to slow down.

Const. Kurtis Ross with Bathurst Police Department was friends with some of the players. The École secondaire Népisiguit alumnus visited the memorial for the first time during the vigil.

"This time of the year I always remember the boys and I knew Codey Branch, personally.," Ross said.

"And I've hung around with Daniel quite a bit too, you know. It's nice to be able to be here tonight and take part in this ceremony."

Glancing at the backboard, Hains reminisced about moments she had with the boys who were no strangers to her home, affectionately referring to some by their nicknames. She spoke about the paths they were on in their lives and wondered what they would have gone on to do if they were here now.

"When I see his [Daniel's] picture up there and I come here, what I miss is that he was a hugger," Hains said. "And he always hugged me."

To view original article in Telegraph Journal, click here.