DSU students, families shocked and saddenedIn a packed ballroom on Dickinson State University’s campus, hundreds of faculty, students and friends gathered in remembrance of three university softball players on Tuesday evening.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
In a packed ballroom on Dickinson State University’s campus, hundreds of faculty, students and friends gathered in remembrance of three university softball players on Tuesday evening.
Missing since late Sunday night, Kyrstin Gemar, 22, Ashley Neufeld, 21, and Afton Williamson, 20, were found dead inside Gemar’s Jeep Cherokee after it was pulled from a 12-foot-deep stock pond northwest of Dickinson at 4:25 p.m. Tuesday.
Rev. Bruce MacDuffie of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Dickinson opened the prayer service and several heartfelt speeches followed.
“There are times when you step in front of a microphone and you realize words cannot convey the sadness in our hearts,” said DSU President Dr. Richard McCallum.
Wednesday classes have been canceled to mourn and remember, said McCallum, adding a memorial service will be scheduled for later in the week.
DSU student senate has opened an account to assist the women’s families in paying for any expenses related to the ordeal.
Under the name Neufeld Gemar Williamson Account, contributions can be made at any Wells Fargo bank nationwide.
During his speech, Eli Turnbough, DSU student body president, said prayer vigil attendance numbers were a testament to the spirit of DSU.
“To see this many people gathered on our small campus shows how Dickinson State is not just a school,” Turnbough said. “It is truly a family.”
Sara Jane Webster, DSU softball team captain, emphasized the team must stick together during this time.
“It is frustrating to think that the three of our teammates were safe and out with us all on Halloween night and nowhere to be found the next,” Webster said.
Lenny Gemar, Kyrstin Gemar’s father, took to the podium and said despite having a horrendous day, he wanted to give his sincerest thanks to all those that assisted in search and rescue efforts.
“I got no greater joy than watching her (Kyrstin) play, and no greater joy than watching her play with you guys,” Lenny Gemar said. “And to the Blue Hawks softball team, go take first this year.”
The three players brought more to the team than just athleticism.
“They’ve taught us that kindness is the key to everything,” said junior Jessica Huseby of Hamilton, Mont., a teammate of the three players. “They are the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
Huseby said the softball team is inseparable, even off the field.
“I have so much anger … why weren’t we all there … why weren’t we, so we could help each other, help the situation,” Huseby said. “That’s the worst part, that there’s no way we could help them.
“My mom told me right before I came here … ‘God needed angels to play softball for him, and he couldn’t have picked any better ones to play,’” Huseby said.
Freshman and fellow teammate Kristy Ortiz of Pleasanton, Calif., said the three girls tremendously helped her make a smooth transition into college life.
“Everything is dedicated to them now,” Ortiz said. “That is our drive now. They’re gonna be why we win.”