The Lake Country Alliance Church was aglow with candlelight Tuesday as the community gathered to honour an Oyama teen who died in a car crash last week.
“It was a really good community turnout for a very well-liked young man,” said Lake Country Mayor James Baker.
Derek Flowers-Johnson, 18, was killed when his vehicle collided with a semi-truck trailer Friday, Feb. 8. Since then, there has been an outpouring of community support for his family.
Flowers-Johnson was an active member of the community, sitting on Lake Country’s council as a student councillor in his final year of high school at George Elliot Secondary in 2017-2018.
He was also a member of the youth firefighting program, and was attending Okanagan College. As a graduate of George Elliot Secondary, everyone from Grade 8 through 12 knew him, or of him, Baker said. Firefighters also attended the vigil.
A memorial service for Flowers-Johnson will also be held Saturday at GESS. Baker said it’s not unusal to hold a service at the high school’s location, which has happened in the past for other well-known community members. The service is open to the public.
With the sheer number of guests, organizer Kendra Weisbrodt said in a Facebook post that a shuttle service was offered.
“I can’t even tell you how much I love the teenagers of our community. This week has likely been one of the hardest weeks many of our teens have had to face. When a peer passes away unexpectedly, it would be really easy to stuff it away, move on, ignore any feeling of it. Do you know what the kids in this community did? They showed up. They collected the supplies, they shared the messages, they asked the questions, they shovelled the snow, they brought the music, they directed the traffic, they parked the cars, they brought the torch, they shook the hands and hugged the parents, they ate the pizza, they lit the candles, they lifted up the brother, they stood in silence,” she said.
If it was anyone else, Derek would have been there helping wholeheartedly, (because) that’s exactly the kind of kid he was.”
Various Lake Country businessess also donated cookies, hot chocolate, coffee, pizza and more for the vigil. On the vigil’s Facebook event, 240 said they went.
Lake Country residents are also rallying to support the family online.
Tara Shoemaker, an admin on a popular Lake Country Facebook page, is organizing a food train for the local family at the request of another community member, she said in a post on Facebook.
With 10 family members and more coming to the Johnson’s house, Shoemaker decided that a food train, where different members of the community each pitch in to make a meal for the family, would be the best option.
To contribute to the train, visit https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/n7mddd?fbclid=IwAR3HWE4JkVyo1nrB9bC_Y9g3241DeIhNT8B_szoI2nvfvZ82Io7zMDk0ESI.
“The last thing anyone wants to do is grocery shop or make meals, so if I and the whole community can pitch in and make meals, if we can take that off of their plates, that would be great,” Shoemaker said.
People can pick a date, announce what meals will be made and can be dropped off at 1859 Klondike Crt.
Bayley Hurdle, who started a GoFundMe for the family Saturday morning, grew up with the family and is feeling a personal loss.
“That whole family is such a close family. Derek was such an amazing guy, he was in welding school, I saw him every day at the college.”
“He was always the jokester in the group.”
The GoFundMe can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/gofundme-for-derek-johnson. Hurdle set out to raise $5,000 and by the end of last weekend that goal had been tripled.