BUCKSPORT, Maine — Around 400 people gathered at the Franklin Street United Methodist Church on Wednesday night for the funeral of Taylor Darveau, 15, who died on Oct. 3 in a car crash.
People filled the church and spilled out of a second room, where those who could not fit in the church watched the service on a screen. Many attendees were dressed in pink and purple, and some wore ribbons with zebra stripes or wristbands with the initials TWD in honor of the young girl who Pastor Peter Remick said had a zebra-themed room.
“Taylor was technically a trained fighter,” said Remick about the Bucksport High School freshman, as her father is a wrestling coach, and she wrestled herself. “But that was not in her spirit.”
He urged those in the audience to honor Darveau by emulating her best qualities, including forgiveness, acceptance and an ability to relate to others.
“Let us write the final chapter of Taylor Darveau’s life by continuing to do good by creating beauty for other people,” he said.
Darveau’s brother, Jordan, and sister, Chelsea, read letters to their sister at the service. Many in the audience put their arms around each other and wept as the siblings spoke.
“I just know that even though you are gone, you will always be my baby sister, and I love you so much,” Darveau’s brother said.
After the service, friends and family attended a reception in the gymnasium at Bucksport High School. The colors pink and purple were everywhere: on balloons, table cloths, hair ribbons, the tops of cupcakes and people’s clothes.
All of the food for the event had been donated by local businesses and organizations. Drop-offs of cookies, cupcakes, drinks and other food started coming in yesterday “and it just hasn’t stopped,” said Ray Grindle, a Bucksport High School custodian.
Family from Massachusetts, Florida, South Carolina and New Hampshire traveled to Bucksport for the event, Melanie Findlay, a family friend, said.
Darveau’s friends had made posters filled with pictures of her that were hung on the walls of the gymnasium next to big sheets of paper where guests wrote messages such as “fly high,” “we will miss you” and “always remembered.” Tables were set up to display her athletic jerseys, cheerleading pom poms and pictures of her with her teammates, while a slideshow of pictures of her from all ages ran for most of the event.
At the end of the evening the guests went outside and lit several dozen lanterns, which floated up into the sky and out of sight. The last lantern — a pink one — drifted over the school as guests cheered below.
Darveau had been a passenger in a car driven by Samantha Goode, 16, when the vehicle veered off Bucks Mills Road and hit a tree. The two Bucksport cheerleaders had been at a dinner at their school for football players and cheerleaders just before the crash, which remains under investigation.
Goode survived the crash and has since returned to school, according to school superintendent Jim Boothby.
According to Darveau’s teachers, even though she was in her first month of her freshman year, it was already clear she was outgoing, involved and had many friends.
“She was just the type of student you want to have at your school and in your class,” Josh Tripp, Darveau’s math and homeroom teacher, said Friday.
Grief counselors were available to speak with students at Bucksport High School during the two days following the crash. More than 100 students gathered to mourn in the school’s library throughout the morning the day after the accident, Boothby said.
At a Saturday football game against Orono High School, the coaches dedicated the game ball to Darveau and presented it to her parents, Christina and Corey Darveau.
About two dozen public safety officials from the area met for a critical incident stress debriefing the day after the crash. The gathering, which included police officers and firefighters, allowed them to discuss and cope with the the incident, Bucksport Fire Department Chief Craig Bowden said. He noted the debrief isn’t something that always happens but was important because of the age of the girl who died, the number of connections the officials had with her and her family, and the severity of the accident.
Darveau was the 108th fatality due to a car crash this year, compared to 128 at this time last year, according to the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety. She is the ninth person between the age of 15 and 19 to die in a car crash this year.
A makeshift memorial created at the tree where Darveau died had grown Wednesday to include bouquets of flowers, cheerleading pom poms, a teddy bear dressed as a Bucksport cheerleader, a pumpkin and a softball, among other items.
There also was a letter addressed to “my sweet baby girl” which read:
“Hold Pappa’s hand. Be our angel. Guide Mommy through this. I miss you so much.”