By Ben Orcutt -- firstname.lastname@example.org
CLEAR BROOK -- About 200 people came out to Clearbrook Park on Saturday to honor the four members of the Roe family who were killed on June 26 in an automobile crash.
Saturday's participants gathered on a ball field at the park to release mainly green and blue balloons in honor of the Roes.
Mark Roe, 49, and his wife, Amanda, 31, were killed in the crash along with their two sons, Caleb 11, and Tyler, 4.
Authorities have charged Steven Andrew Boyce, 20, of 221 Hawk Trail, Shawneeland, with a first offense of driving under the influence, underage possession of alcohol, and aggravated involuntary manslaughter.
The crash occurred on U.S. 11 near Stephenson when a 1985 Chevrolet pickup driven by Boyce rear-ended the Roes' 1994 Jeep Cherokee that was stopped at a traffic light, according to state police.
Samantha Kuykendall, 28, of Bloomery, W.Va., is the sister of Amanda Roe and attended Saturday's event with her husband and their children.
"It's overwhelming really to know that the community's behind us so much to make the awareness that this [drinking and driving] has to stop somewhere," Kuykendall said.
Kuykendall said Saturday would have been Tyler Roe's 5th birthday. She added that the boys' favorite colors were green and blue and Amanda Roe's favorite color was blue.
Prior to the release of the balloons, participants sang "Happy Birthday" to Tyler. Following the balloon release there was applause.
Valerie Sine, 32, of Martinsburg, organized Saturday's event.
"Me and Amanda grew up together," Sine said. "We were in Girl Scouts. We went to Stonewall Elementary School together and stuff like that. I have two boys myself and just the whole thought of it just kind of broke my heart and I just wanted the community to come together. So I thought, hmmm, balloons. Put them up in the air so everybody can see them. I thought maybe it would symbolize how much we cared and everybody could just look outside and see the balloons."
Roxanne Mowery, 32, went to school with Amanda Roe and attended Saturday's event. Her voice cracking, Mowery said, "It could have happened to me and my family and I just want to honor her memory and her children."
James Maragoni, 55, of Stephenson, attended Saturday's balloon release with his wife, Nancy, and their 7-year-old granddaughter, Stacia Tasker.
"We're here just to show our support for the family and we're sorry that a tragedy like that happens and hopefully it doesn't happen again," Maragoni said.
Andy Simkhovitch, 50, Amanda Roe's father, attended Saturday's event as well as his ex-wife, Brenda Simkhovitch, also 50, who is Amanda Roe's mother. Brenda Simkhovitch said the victims of the crash lived with her in Stephenson.
Simkhovitch said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support on Saturday.
"I love to see the support [from] people coming out for this," Simkhovitch said. "It really makes me feel good inside for remembering them like this. Yeah, it's a great thing. They'll be remembered for this and like I hear, it's nationwide that people are doing this. It's great."
Brenda Simkhovitch spoke in a similar vein.
"It's a lot of help actually," she said. "I know a lot of prayers have been said and they help as well and just everybody's been really good to us and supporting us a lot."
Asked how she and her family were coping, Brenda Simkhovitch replied, "Making it a minute at a time. I mean you know, it's hard."
Members of Mark Roe's family chose not to comment on the balloon release.
Brenda Simkhovitch said a viewing is scheduled for Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Omps Funeral Home, Amherst Chapel, with funeral services set for Thursday at 2 p.m. at the funeral home. Internment will be at Ebenezer Christian Church in Gore.