1,000 people pay respects at UR memorial for air balloon crash victims

Published: May. 16, 2014 at 3:15 PM EDT
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Funeral arrangements have now been finalized for the victims in the Caroline County hot air balloon crash.

The funeral for  balloon pilot Daniel Kirk will be on Saturday in Delaware. Services for University of Richmond coach Ginny Doyle will be at the end of this month in Philadelphia.  Natalie Lewis will be remembered Saturday in Buffalo, New York.

This comes as the university community came together on Wednesday for its own remembrance service.

The Cannon Memorial Chapel has seating for 800 people, but it was standing room only for the services. The message to the families from the Spider community: you are not alone in your grief.  The intention: to gather a community grieving over the loss of Coach Doyle and Lewis.

The Lewis family included Natalie's fiancee, he had just proposed a few weeks ago.  Coach Doyle's family soon followed, along with members of the women's basketball team; some were leaning on each other for support

"My heart just goes out to them," says Jillian Prentince, a runner on the U of R women's track & field team.  "Sometimes it doesn't feel real until you see their family and see them struggling, that's when it really hits home for you."

"Our thoughts and prayers really go out to their family and friends," says Taylor Clevinger, a runner on the U of R women's track & field team.

For many this gathering was also a lesson about the meaning of an athletic family.  During the service family members and members of the athletic department lit candles, each one a sign of prayer, hope and grief

"It is in the midst of tragedy, a beautiful thing to see people care about one another like this," says Dr. Craig Kocher, the university's chaplain.  This show of support is sending a strong message to those who are grieving right now.  "They have felt the strength of the people around them," says Dr. Kocher.  "We're with you and somehow, some way this is going to be okay."

Both families met with the university community after the service, they will soon travel to their respective hometowns for memorial services there.

A larger memorial for Doyle and Lewis will be held at the university this fall, but a date has not been set.

For Kirk, according to Tobert Funeral Chapels, services will be held at 1pm on Saturday May 17th at the Hartly United Methodist Church, 85 Main Street, Hartly, DE. A reception will follow at the Hartly volunteer Fire Company. Interment will be in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be sent to the Great Eastern Balloon Camp http://www.bfacamps.com/eastern-balloon-camp.html or the United Methodist Church, 85 Main Street, Hartly, DE 19953.

Click here for more on the funeral arrangements and funds that have been set up for Lewis and Doyle.

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