Balloon launch, memorial service in honor of Wheatland crash victims

Posted at: 07/16/2014 7:00 AM
Updated at: 07/16/2014 11:11 PM
By: Lynette Adams

It was one year ago today when the Caledonia community lost three bright, promising young people in a crash. On Wednesday night, that community and the two survivors of that crash remembered the friends they lost.

On July 16, 2013, a group of five young people were driving in a Jeep when they were hit by a tractor trailer. They were headed home after spending the day volunteering at a camp.

Chris Peterson, and his sister, Emily and their friend, Taylor Binnert, were killed. Michaela Murphy and Joanne Krutchen survived the accident.

A memorial service and balloon launch was held for the victims.

The crash left the Caledonia community numb with grief. On Wednesday night, that community told the family members of the three young people killed that they haven’t forgotten and that they continue to stand with them.

Michaela Murphy and Joanne Kruchten had no clue when they planned this memorial that they would get such a big turnout. Melanie Johnson was also part of the planning.

Melanie Johnson said, “You never know how much a blessing a small town is until you need them. That's what this has been all about, even tonight. We never expected this many people to come.”

Murphy and Kruchten are the two survivors of last summer’s horrific crash at State Route 36 and North Road. Taylor Binnert, Christopher Peterson and his sister, Emily, didn’t survive the crash.

A year later, the small community of Caledonia-Mumford is proving it is Cal-Mum Strong.

Elaina Riggi said, “We are prepared for anything now. It is not a community. We are a family. It doesn’t matter how much you knew the victims and the survivors. We are all in this together.”

Elaina Riggi says she launched the Cal-Mum Strong slogan a year ago, when she posted it on her Facebook page. She never thought this slogan would inspire this community to fight to keep tragedy from tearing it apart.

Riggi said, “I wanted to show the communities around us that we were going to get through this.”

Murphy and Kruchten didn’t want to appear on camera and asked us not to record the memorial from close-up. News10NBC honored their requests.

As for the intersection, there is now a four way stop and stop signs on Route 36 as well.