Friends, family say goodbyeIn a very somber and heartfelt visit to the site of an incident that left three Dickinson State University students dead, those closest to the young women tossed out a few last pitches and roses in remembrance.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
In a very somber and heartfelt visit to the site of an incident that left three Dickinson State University students dead, those closest to the young women tossed out a few last pitches and roses in remembrance.
After being reported missing on Sunday, DSU softball players Kyrstin Gemar, 22, Ashley Neufeld, 21, and Afton Williamson, 20, were discovered dead inside Gemar’s Jeep Cherokee after it was pulled from a 10-foot-deep stock pond about 12 miles northwest of Dickinson, Tuesday.
For loved ones, friends and teammates, a visit to the site was a means of absorbing what happened amid unanswered questions.
“We just wanted to come out here to understand it a little bit more and wrap our heads around it,” said Jody Lantz, Blue Hawks senior third baseman and teammate of the three women. “It’s really hard right now, but we’ve gotta come together like a family. It’s something that no one should ever have to experience.”
Tear-filled sobs, prayer, laughter and loving words to the deceased could be heard over soft prairie winds.
Roses were dropped into the water.
Three neon yellow softballs were tossed into the water, one for each missing player.
First-year head coach Kristen Fleury said at this point, the team can only take things day by day.
“I told them from the get-go, we are one family here,” Fleury said, sporting a silver and navy blue remembrance ribbon handed out by DSU staff.
Taking to the softball field again will be an adjustment for the team.
“It’s gonna be weird going onto the field and knowing that they’re never going to be there,” Lantz said, choking back tears.
Leaning on their beliefs, Lenny and Claire Gemar, parents of Kyrstin Gemar, said they know their daughter is in a better place.
“I was just wondering what came through her mind the last moments of her life,” Claire Gemar said.
She vividly remembers the last conversation she had with her daughter, Sunday afternoon.
“I said, ‘Be safe,’ and she goes, ‘I will,’ and ‘I love you,’” Claire Gemar said. “That was it. That was the last time I talked to her.”
Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said country traffic is excessive and often consists of “kids being kids.”
A male Dickinson resident neighboring the pond, who requested to remain anonymous, said it is not uncommon for vehicles to drive through area fields.
The pond the three women died in is on private property.
Curtis Pavlicek of Dickinson, who has owned the pond and surrounding land for 30 years, said he isn’t aware of any issues of trespassing.
The Gemar’s stressed how important they feel it is for college students in a new place to know their surroundings.
“You can go out and have fun, but not to the extreme that you don’t know where you’re going, and I hope that everybody learned from this,” Claire Gemar said.
Lenny Gemar said for himself and Claire, visiting the site was a way to say goodbye.
“We threw out last pitches to each of the girls, and up in that heavenly softball league someplace where we hope that they are, we know they hit them outta the park.”