WARREN - The community came together through the pain and tears of tragedy to honor those lost, while extending a helping hand to friends and family left behind.
Hundreds turned out for a vigil on Monday at the ACOP building, 2051 Niles Road S.E., in memory of the six teenagers killed in Sunday's car accident on Pine Avenue S.E.
Marquis Gary, 15, a friend and classmate of Kirklan Behner, wants the victim to be remembered for his bright personality.
"I just want to show Kirklan and all of them that we really care and who their real friends are," Gary said just before the start of the vigil. "He'd always put a smile on people's faces. I'm just hoping to get answers, like why. Why did it have to happen to them?"
Many city officials were on hand to offer support. Mayor Doug Franklin shared his memories of Behner, recalling the 15-year-old's community service.
"I didn't know until this morning that I knew your son," Franklin said to Behner's mother. "In fact, it was a community clean-up. He was the one young man that was sweeping the streets on Niles Road with me. Our hearts and prayers are with you and we are going to get through this together as a community."
Franklin said the national and international attention garnered by the accident is a sign of the world rallying around Warren.
"A lot of people are with us," Franklin said. "We have to be with ourselves. It is time we stop mourning each other and start turning toward each other. This is the time and this is our calling. We aren't going to let this loss of life define us today.
"We're going to learn from this and become a stronger community because of this," he said.
Councilwoman Helen Rucker was also at the event, reminding parents to be there for their children during this difficult time.
"To the adults, just be responsible and respectful enough to these children to give them help when they need it," Rucker said. "Don't shrug them off. Sometimes children have a subtle way of calling out for help."
Just before bundles of balloons were released in honor of the teens killed, Pastor Robert Lewis levied an emotional plea to the community.
"We know that we have a chance to live and not die," Lewis said. "We can only pray for those that have gone on before us. But, we don't have to repeat or duplicate this kind of situation ever again."
A candlelight vigil will be held Friday at the scene of the crash on Pine Avenue S.E. The time of the vigil is yet to be determined.