Devastation shattered through Price as three beautiful and young lives were lost this past semester. Preston Grant, Taylor Johnson and David Taylor; the three names of people USU Eastern lost fall semester 2014. Each of them was beloved by family and peers. Two of them lost their battle to a devastating mental illness and another was killed in a car accident.In honor of the lost lives, Madison Woodward, with the help of H.E.A.R.T. and the SUN Center, organized a candlelight vigil open to the public. People gathered to honor the fallen and celebrate the lives they led.
Gathered in the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center, people hugged and whispered words of comfort as they waited for the ceremony to begin.
Darrin Brandt, director of student services, addressed the crowd and everyone fell silent. “As we gather here today, we have an opportunity to mourn and be together in this time of sorrow. It’s been a tough semester… We have lost too many young lives. We have to become capable of dealing with loss. We have to learn to move forward.”
Brandt led everyone outside silently where they were given a candle. Three people were called up to represent Grant, Johnson or and Taylor. All the candles were lit from the three and soon the night was filled with the warmth and light of the candles provided.
A few moments were taken before someone close to one of the three spoke about their friend.
Kalli Peay, a close friend to Taylor, spoke to the crowd first. “Tay was a positive person; there wasn’t a time she was negative. In high school we always talked about going to college and going crazy and living the life. Tay originally wanted to attend SUU, but when she found out I was playing basketball here, she decided to come here instead. Without her, I’m not sure I would have made it. I was red shirt and don’t think I would have come out of it to play basketball again without her. She would want us to be positive; she would want us to be happy.”
Earl Adams, a friend of Preston, was next. “The time I knew Preston, he touched my life. He was very open with everyone; you could talk to him about anything. He welcomed me to Price before anyone else. He guided me to the place I am now. He really loved everyone and you could see that.”
Finally, Brandt spoke on behalf of David’s family. “I think the thing I want to say to you all is that we need to keep each other closer and love each other more. David and Preston fought like heck to stay here, but they died because of their disease. They would want us to live magnificent lives. As a school, as community we need to rely on each other. It’s time for us to turn for hope. It’s a time to be near and love on another.”
Following the remarks, people were invited to say things about the three. Marki Lynn, sobbing, presented a signed Les Miserable poster to David’s family. Many hugs and tears were shared.
Markers were provided to sign Gibby with names of fallen family members and for posters that would be given to each of the families. The student body and community gathered around each other in near silence as the signing occurred.
In a moment of spontaneity, students began to sign “God Be With You Till Meet Again.” Soon the whole crowd sang the hymn together, holding each other and biding goodbye to the beautiful people lost.
May their light never burn out, we will never forget Preston, Taylor or David.