An outpouring of grief and outrage is sweeping through the community.
People are expressing sympathy for the family of Carson Crimeni, as well as anger towards the people who recorded the teenager in obvious distress before his death, then posted videos online – all without calling 9-1-1.
Hundreds attended a vigil at Walnut Grove Community Park last Thursday night, gathering around the skate park bowl where Carson frequented. They lit candles and laid bouquets of flowers, a backpack, and even a skateboard.
Among those present were Carson’s family. They were seen talking to participants, collecting cards and written condolences, as well as some of the flowers and teddy bears.
There were many tears and hugs shared among the crowd, which included children, youth, and adults, as well as police.
Among visitors to the makeshift memorial was Christian Lussin, 17, who said he didn’t know Carson well, but mourned his passing all the same.
Lussin laid a small bouquet of flowers and a scribed note: “Prayers go out to you and your family. R.I.P.”
“I wish it didn’t happen to anyone,” Lussin said. “I came because… caring. I don’t know. I didn’t know him much, but I wish I’d got to know him a bit better, honestly. I mean, no one deserves to die like this, at such a young age.”
READ MORE: Carson: a death on social media
In the days since, more people stopped by the makeshift memorial at the Walnut Grove skate park, to pay their respects to the late 14-year-old.
An online gofundme.com campaign has also been set up to help the family.
As of Tuesday morning, the “Carson Crimeni Memorial Fund” reported 485 donors had contributed $28,400 – well above the fundraising goal of $20,000.
It described Crimeni, a Grade 9 student at Walnut Grove Secondary, as a “loving, energetic and happy high school student” who enjoyed playing hockey, video games, and hanging out with friends and family.
Organizer Julie Nakahara described the loss of Carson as “a tragedy that no family should have to endure,” adding it was “heartbreaking to learn that Carson may have been visibly suffering while people taunted, filmed, and photographed him – instead of calling for help.”
Donor Carl Wheaton, who lost his daughter to an accidental drug overdose earlier this year, described Carson’s death as “tragic and senseless.”
Other online commenters said the incident shows the need to educate kids about drug hazards.
Brian Ulle said rather than wasting efforts trashing the people who took the videos, talk to your children.
“Best way to honour this little man and his family is to try change the behaviour of others so it doesn’t happen again,” Ulle said.
Bren Lynne said she felt “sick and heart-broken over this senseless death of a young boy,” while hoping this incident will save many other young lives.
“Parents, talk to your teens and hopefully they will learn from this and [it] doesn’t have to happen again,” said Lynne.
Langley School District notified parents by email on Thursday, saying “with great sadness that the district confirms a Grade 9 student at Walnut Grove Secondary School has passed away unexpectedly,” and offering condolences to the Crimeni family.
It included information about agencies offering emotional support and advised counselling services will be available at the school in September for students and staff.
“Losing a student at one of our schools impacts everyone in our community including students, teachers, and our staff,” the statement added.
Langley Hospice Society executive director Carissa Halley said feelings of grief are “a natural reaction” to a tragic loss like Carson’s passing.
“Truly, the only cure for grief is to grieve,” Halley said.
“It’s important that as a community, we allow grief to be heard, talked about, given a voice.
“Events like these can motivate us to seek support and understanding from our own networks of friends, family – and the broader community,” she said.
Hospice has information and resources available for those struggling. They’re available through the hospice supportive program centre, which is open Mondays to Fridays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Langley Hospice Society can also be reached at 604-530-1115 or langleyhospice.com.
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