Lights for their lives

Teens memorialized

Teens memorialized

December 18, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE


Light from a full moon veiled by a cloudy haze was overpowered Saturday night by the sea of candles on the front lawn of John and Carole Barrett's home outside Sharpsburg.

Holding the candles were hundreds of teenagers, with some adults mixed in. Unlike most teen gatherings, this was somber, a pall hanging over the assembled mass.

The occasion, on the front lawn of the Barretts' home at 3818 Mills Road, was a memorial service for her son and his stepson, Jonathan Barnes, 17, and two of his best friends, Michael Abell, 17, and Brian Daigle, 18.

All three died last Sunday morning in a fire while sleeping in the home of another friend, Max Hope, 17, at 22 Mount Hebron Road in Keedysville.


The owner of the home, Maxwell B. Hope Jr., 54, his son, Max Hope, and a 15-year-old boy escaped the flames.

Saturday's memorial was organized by three young people, two of whom didn't know the victims. The organizers were Amanda Lee, Samuel Rock and Ishmael Noreiga.

There was no way to count the number of teens and adults at the service, but a quick estimate showed several hundred circled around the front porch.

Carole Barrett said she was overwhelmed.

"It took a life of its own," she said.

The organizers rounded up donations of money and food to feed the crowd. The mourners were directed to a huge parking lot in a nearby church. They walked down the luminaria-lined, long driveway leading to the Barretts' home.

On Monday, the day after the fire, Rock and Noreiga, armed with roses, went to Boonsboro High School to pay their respect to the victims.

Barnes and Abell were students there, and Daigle was a Boonsboro graduate.

"We were shaken by what happened," Noreiga said. "We wanted to do something to make a difference for their families and to comfort the kids who lost friends. These boys were well-known. A lot of people will miss them."

Noreiga said he and Rock are emergency medical technicians in Washington County.

Rock called the Barretts and asked permission to hold a memorial service at their home, Carole Barrett said.

Hers was a home that attracted teenage boys.

"These boys were like my sons," she said of Abell and Daigle. "They were here almost every day."

The service included remarks by family members and friends. A public address system was set up on the front porch.

Rock took the microphone first.

"Why are we here? I didn't know these boys, but I'm here because I want to be here," he said. "These boys are in a good place now. They're with God."

"We're here to pay our respects. It's the right thing to do," Noreiga said. "I'm overwhelmed by the turnout. It touches me."

Carole Barrett said the turnout showed that she is loved by many people.

"I didn't realize the magnitude of love that is in this community," she said. "This is going to be really, really hard for us after the ceremonies (funeral services), so please come back often and keep their memory alive for us."

"I love you all for loving them," Robert Barrett said.

Other family members spoke, as well as the victims' schoolmates. They spoke of school bus experiences and of skateboarding through Boonsboro. Cheyenne Furneaux, a classmate, read "Tears," a poem she wrote in honor of the victims.

"All you boys out there, give your moms a big hug," said Sara Butt, Abell's and Barnes' school bus driver. Students who ride her bus also picked up a collection for the parents of the victims.

A savings account in each of the victims' names is being set up at the Boonsboro branch of Hagerstown Trust Co. Donations are being accepted and will go to their families.

The Herald-Mail Articles