Young people honor lost friends Reaching out: Parents and friends of Carroll County youths who died recently gather to remember their losses and support each other.

September 13, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

About 1,000 people gathered at the Westminster City Playground last night to remember Carroll County youths who have died in the past two years and to help those who have lost loved ones begin the healing process.

"We wanted to give the kids a place to come together and express their grief, to help them find closure," said Patti Robinson, who began planning the rally after her niece, Jessica R. Bassler, was killed in a car accident in April.

Prayers for the young

As darkness fell, strangers prayed together for the youths who have died -- and for those who live, coping with the losses.

The rally was the third event held this summer to foster healing. A Rally for the Faithful was held two weeks ago, drawing 400 People. And about 1,700 attended a daylong concert on Aug. 15.

At each event, youths sat in lawn chairs and on blankets listening to music as volunteers offered information on counseling services and youth programs.

"If you've lost a friend, lost a relative, Jesus Christ says you will see him again," Roger Record, a Christian musician, told the crowd that gathered yesterday.

About 20 churches and several youth groups participated in the event, sponsored by the Circle of Friends, a support group for those who were close to the teen-agers who died.

Parents give comfort

"If we can help just one person cope with the loss of their son or daughter, I will consider the rally a success," said Anthony Rivera, 47, whose son, Anthony Joseph "T. J." Rivera, died of a severe asthma attack last year.

"Every time we hear or read about a child dying, we reach out to the parents," added Rivera's wife, Debbie, 42. "We want them to know they are not alone."

Youths attending the rally munched on pizza, listened to a concert by Record's alternative Christian funk band, viewed a memorial video and talked about what it's like to lose a friend.

The rally was to end with a candle-lighting ceremony.

"An event like this is so important for the community," said Victoria Lehmann, 16, a junior at Westminster High School. "It shows kids that we can come together, that we're here for one another."

In Memoriam:

The young people who were being remembered included:

Bethany Marie Harpster, 6, of Westminster, who died of an overdose of medication Feb. 15, 1997.

Thomas W. McDonald, 16, of Westminster, who died Aug. 7, 1997, after apparently inhaling air freshener.

Daniel Harrison, 20, of Westminster, who died Oct. 6, 1997, two days after a car accident.

Anthony "T J." Rivera, 14, of Westminster, who died Oct. 24.

Joseph L. Wilkinson, 17, of Manchester, who died Nov. 30 in a car accident.

Martin Oswiecimka, 20, of Westminster, who died Dec. 19 after a car accident.

Liam A. O'Hara, 15, of Westminster, who died Jan. 9 of a heroin overdose.

Darrell Burnette, 21, of Westminster, who died in February of a heroin overdose.

Lindsay Scott, 12, of Westminster, who died March 5 of cystic fibrosis.

A 14-year-old Westminster High School freshman who took his own life March 6.

Jonathan A. Horneff, 17, of Westminster, who died March 12 of cardiac arrhythmia.

Jessica R. Bassler of Taneytown and Domini Wigle of Keymar, both 16, who died in a car accident April 4.

David A. Weinstein, 18, of Westminster, who died in a motorcycle accident May 17.

Casey S. Athman, 15, of Westminster, who died May 18 of injuries he suffered when hit by a car while in-line skating.

Jill M. Peay, 15, of Sykesville, and Jessica E. Harley, 16, of Shady Side, who died in an auto accident June 25.

Shen Poehlman, 17, of Eldersburg, who was slain in Reisterstown July 28.

Jonathan Barrows, 19, formerly of Carroll County, who was slain in Alabama Aug. 28.

Pub Date: 9/13/98

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