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'We needed to do something'

Trio plans memorial for teens who perished in fire

Trio plans memorial for teens who perished in fire

December 15, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

BOONSBORO

erinc@herald-mail.com

Samuel Rock loaded his truck Wednesday with 640 hot dogs, just as many buns and 240 bags of chips.

The food, he said, will go to the 1,000 people expected to attend a memorial for three Washington County teenagers who died in a fire Sunday.

Rock, a student at Washington County Technical High School, and two friends, Amanda Lee and Ishmael Noreiga, planned today's memorial for Boonsboro High School students Michael Abell and Jonathan Barnes and Boonsboro graduate Brian Daigle.

The boys were spending the night with a friend at 22 Mount Hebron Road in Keedysville when the fire broke out.

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Rock never met Abell, Barnes or Daigle, but the day after their death, he and Noreiga drove to the high school to pay their respects. They arrived with roses and spoke with a few teachers.

"It just touched all of us," Rock said. "Some people ask me why I'm doing this. And I say it's because I had to do something."

After Rock spoke with Lee, who had known Barnes, the three decided to do more than pay their respects. They began planning a large candlelight memorial - a way for family, friends and the community to say goodbye to the three teenagers, they said.

"It was after we saw the house (that burned) that we realized we needed to do something bigger," Noreiga said.

They spoke with Barnes' mother, Carole Barrett, who offered her home at 3818 Mills Road for today's 6:30 p.m. memorial.

Then, Rock said, they began driving to area businesses asking for donations of candles, flowers, food, drinks and other supplies. Rock's phone had been ringing for days with offers of help and words of support, he said.

"People are calling that he didn't even give his number to," Noreiga said.

As soon as they told people about the situation and why they needed the donations, Rock said everything was easy.

"They were all eager to help," he said.

They have distributed fliers to area schools and have contacted county fire and rescue companies, who might send representatives to the memorial, he said. The boys' families, friends, people from area churches, school officials and others have said they plan to be there.

And donations kept rolling in.

On Wednesday, they got an offer of hot chocolate for 1,000 people.

"This had to be done," Noreiga said. "We went to drop off roses ... and I'm not really sure how all of this happened."

After the memorial, they plan to plant three trees in memory of Abell, Barnes and Daigle. The trees - white pines - were donated by Snavley's Garden Corner and are about 3 feet tall, they said.

Martin's, Sam's Club, Sunny Meadows, Michaels, Christian Light Bookstore and other area businesses already have donated items for the service.

"I hope the service we're providing makes people feel better," Noreiga said. "I hope it gives them some relief."

In case of inclement weather, Rock said the memorial will be Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at 3818 Mills Road.

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