GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Monday marks one year since four teens were killed and several others were injured in a crash on Highway 431 near Guntersville, and Saturday their friends and families celebrated their lives.
Saturday a pavilion at Civitan Park in Guntersville was packed full of people.
Fingers thumbed through a scrapbook stocked with pictures of Ryan Lawson. Hands smoothed photos of Blake Keener on a poster board. Some wore shirts with Ruben Pacheco smiling brightly on the front. A large picture of a grinning Maegan Cordell was propped up on the table.
The pictures capture an age, a milestone, a smile, and a moment.
For the families of those four teens, they capture a lifetime.
“They were saying some of them were dead,” Shirley Keener says, “It was the worst day you could ever imagine.”
Blake Keener’s mother is talking about the day nearly a year ago when she found out her son would never smile for another picture.
“And to find out the others had passed, I knew all the kids in the truck,” Keener says.
A year later remnants of the crash are hidden in the grass but the memory of those killed in it is bright, depicted with colorful markers on the side of the road.
Saturday, as friends and families gathered together, the memory of the crash was inevitable but the memories of their loved ones was concrete.
“It’s been rough, but his friends have really helped so much, because they tell stories about them all and it’s just been fascinating,” Keener says.
Keener says she’s been able to cope this past year through memories of the teens, and even though it’s bittersweet, by looking at pictures.
It’s with stories shared and snapshots of four lifetimes that are cherished that those lives won’t be forgotten, as one year turns into many.
Marshall County Deputies and state troopers arrested Adrian Renteria in November after a grand jury indicted him on four counts of manslaughter and three counts of second degree aggravated assault in connection with the crash.
He’s currently being held at the Marshall County jail. His arraignment is set for August fourth. Limited details are being released on the crash.