Five red balloons were released Sunday in memory of Drew Hayden, who died following a sledding accident in North Ridgeville.
More than 100 people gathered near the crash site to shed tears, a handful holding electric candles in the sub-zero temperatures. Many held their own children close.
Police and firefighters stood by to pay their respects in the short ceremony. During that time, children playing on the small rise at Meadow Lakes Boulevard near Hunter Lake Drive took a break.
Some placed small teddy bears in the snow. Others stooped low to mournfully, prayerfully pat the stuffed animals’ heads.
It was the second vigil in as many days.
Drew, a third-grader at Harris Elementary School in Amherst, was also remembered Saturday in a ceremony at Great Lakes Church, the former Shupe Elementary.
There his father, Matt Hayden, said Drew’s organs will be donated to help others.
“He will be a hero to others,” he said.
“As an educator and a mother, my heart hurts for our entire Amherst community and especially his parents,” Harris principal Beth Schwartz posted Friday. “As you talk to your children about this difficult situation, please hold them tight and know that we are here to help.”
She also addressed her students directly on Twitter: “Harris kids — I’ll be at the vigil this afternoon at Great Lakes Church. I may not have the right words but I always have hugs for you.”
She said counselors will be at the school Tuesday for students if they would like to talk.
The Amherst school district website bore this message following Drew’s death: “We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of one of our third grade students. Please keep Drew Hayden’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. We know that the Amherst community is a strong and caring one and that we will support each other during this very difficult time.”
If you need guidance or assistance in discussing the tragedy with your children, contact your building principal.
Nearly $500 was collected Friday night when Comets and North Ridgeville Rangers basketball fans dipped into their pockets to give to the Hayden family.
An account has also been established at www.gofundme.com/ghnwzw98, where as of Monday more than $27,000 had been collected in memory of Drew.
The News-Times respectfully encourages our readers to consider helping this grief-laden family.
Drew was sledding last Tuesday when he slid into the street, which is one of two main roads into the Meadow Lakes subdivision. He was struck by driver Chris Nagel, 44, whose teenage son was also reportedly in the car.
Drew was taken to University Hospitals St. John Medical Center in Westlake, then flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.
He died Friday.
Photos by Joe Colon | Amherst News-Times Debbie Tann holds on tightly to her son, Andrew Tann, consoling him Saturday in a prayer vigil at Great Lakes Church. The family lost nine-year-old Drew Hayden in a sledding accident in North Ridgeville.
Valerie Urbanik | Amherst News-Times Teddy bears and flowers are placed at the foot of the small sledding hill where Drew Hayden died, and where a crowd of more than 100 gathered Sunday to pay respects.
www.gofundme.com This picture of Drew Hayden was posted with an online campaign to help raise funds for his family. The memorial account was established by a coworker of Drew’s mother.