Candlight vigil held at NRHSHundreds of friends, family and classmates of Josh Goodrich, Jordan Johnson, Tom Wanless and Zach Zajec gathered at New Richmond High School on Sunday for a candlelight vigil dedicated to the two high school seniors killed in the Interstate 94 crash last week.
Hundreds of friends, family and classmates of Josh Goodrich, Jordan Johnson, Tom Wanless and Zach Zajec gathered at New Richmond High School on Sunday for a candlelight vigil dedicated to the two high school seniors killed in the Interstate 94 crash last week.
Goodrich, 17 and Johnson, 16, were killed Monday, July 30, when the vehicle they were riding in rear-ended a semi-trailer in the construction zone on I-94. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Goodrich was transported to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn. where he died from his injuries. Zach Zajec, 17, the driver of the vehicle, died Aug. 6 at Region’s Hospital from his injuries. Tom Wanless, 17, was another passenger in the vehicle. He received non-life threatening injuries, which included a broken collarbone.
A candlelight vigil was organized by parents and friends of the teens and took place after the high school’s mandatory athletic code meeting, of which all four boys would have attended. Johnson played football, baseball and was on the school’s wrestling team. Goodrich played JV hockey. Zajec and Wanless both play soccer for the school.
A fence near the school’s athletic facilities has been dedicated as a caring wall for the boys, a place for people to leave flowers, cards, letters and other memorabilia in honor of Goodrich, Johnson, Wanless and Zajec. The caring wall is located near the western parking lot by the high school track.
On Sunday, the crowd broke into separate prayer groups before coming together for the lighting of the candles. The candlelight vigil was led by Pastor Mike Evans of Faith Community Church.
Evans began the vigil by saying a few words and then invited anyone who wanted to speak to come take the microphone and say a few words.
“This is one of those deals in life where we don’t know what to do,” said Evans. “We don’t know how to care. We don’t know how to love. And we want to. And so we come together.”
While the crowds mourned for Goodrich and Johnson, Zajec and Wanless were not forgotten. Goodrich’s mother, Kathy Handlos came forward to thank everyone for coming to show their support, and to ask them to remember Zajec in their prayers as well.
“I want everybody to take one deep breath and send all your love and energy and positive thoughts to Zach,” said Handlos.
“There isn’t a reason and there isn’t a question why,” said Handlos, It’s just what all of us do with it from now on. One more ‘I love you,’ one more hug, and just holding everybody close.”
After Handlos spoke, Evans invited the crowd to gather into smaller prayer circles. Evans himself formed a prayer circle with Johnson and Goodrich’s families, as well as Wanless and his family.
When they were done praying, candles were passed out, first to the class of 2013, then to others gathered, and all formed a ring around the track. Johnson and Goodrich’s families lit their candles from a set of special candles on a memorial display for Johnson and Goodrich. The families lit the candles of those near them, who passed the light on down the line until it both sides met, and formed a ring of light.
The crowd sang “Amazing Grace” to finish off the vigil.
Evans invited the crowd to sign two metal crosses with Johnson and Goodrich’s names engraved into them. The crosses will be placed at the accident scene.
“It doesn’t matter how old you become in life. Days like this are painful,” Evans said. “We’re recognizing that we need more than the capacity that we have in ourselves to deal with this, and so we come together.”