Students gather at informal memorial to remember deceased
Main Photo: TIM WIECLAWSKI/METRO OTTAWA; Inset: In Loving Memory of Vanessa Crawford Facebook Group
As the names of the deceased in Wednesday’s traffic collision made their way around campus, Carleton University students struggled yesterday to cope with the loss of their own.
A day after an SUV carrying five Carleton students crashed into a city bus, killing three people, the university yesterday hosted an informal memorial in a residence lounge to remember Mark MacDonald, 20, and Vanessa Crawford and Brianne Deschamps, both age 19.
Campus chaplain Tom Sherwood organized the memorial as a quiet place for students to share their feelings and meet with grief counselors. More than 100 students attended.
“I just can’t believe it,” said Alyxz Buttle who lived on the same floor in residence with Crawford and Deschamps “It’s just so much to take in all at once.”
Aidan Millar, also a friend from residence, said she’d always remember Crawford’s smile. “She was always so happy. I was jealous of her for being so happy all the time,” she said.
Erin Popadynetz knew MacDonald. She called him a “really nice, outgoing guy.” She said it’s been a nerve-wracking experience since she heard about the collision. Like most students, her parents telephoned her upon hearing the news. They were glad she was safe and reminded her to be careful.
Police said alcohol is considered a factor in the crash that saw the students’ SUV crushed in an early-morning collision with a bus at the intersection of Heron and Riverside roads.
Katalin McLean is a dancer and found a connection with Crawford through their shared passion. The two once competed in a residence version of the TV show So You Think You Can Dance?
Crawford’s death is only starting to hit home, she said. “It’s really important that we all stick together. It’s hard when you’re so far from home and you don’t have the direct support from your parents.”
The university is planning a remembrance service with the students’ families next week.
Ottawa Police are still investigating. Const. Alain Boucher said both vehicles passed mechanical inspections yesterday, ruling out the possibility of brake failure.
Police are expecting a traffic-light sequencing report and results from the autopsy either today or Monday. The bus driver told police he had the green light at the time of the crash.
Two other people in the vehicle, a Toyota 4-Runner SUV, survived the collision with injuries.