Barrie mourns after six youngsters die in weekend car crash


The city of Barrie, Ontario. is dealing with grief and shock following a fatal car crash that killed six youngsters on Sunday morning.

« It doesn’t even seem real, » said Jordyn Gobin, a friend of Curtis King since he was six. King, 22, was one of six people who died.

King was his defender, his advocate in difficult times, Gobin said. She described him as a gentle soul with a smile that never left his face, a good-natured class clown cracking jokes at the back of the room.

« I certainly didn’t have the easiest childhood, but Curtis was always supportive of me, » Gobin said. « No matter how old we were, he was always smiling, always laughing, always trying to make other people laugh. »

Police have not confirmed the identity of the deceased, but speaking with family and friends, The Star and its sister publication,, were able to confirm the identity of the victims: King, River Wells, 23, Luke West, 22, Haley Marin, 21, Jersey Mitchell, 21, and Jason Ono-O’Connor, 22.

The Star and connected with some who knew them. A few were unable to speak without collapsing. Others struggled to find the words to express such a deep loss.

Barrie police located the single-vehicle crash around 2 a.m. Sunday in an area near Highway 400. It had been closed for construction for months, according to the city.

After the crash, Barrie police were observed standing around what appeared to be a large concrete hole surrounded by a fence.

Police are still investigating the cause of the accident and have not yet released any information.

But the community is grieving and desperate for answers. Gobin says he’s seen unfounded rumors on social media trying to fill the void.

« All I can think is that they didn’t want to die, » she said. « They were happy. »

The day after the crash, community members began laying flowers to commemorate the victims.

Among those who placed bouquets were Kailey Graham and Kayleigh Bryant-Nordeen.

Speaking to reporters, the two women said they knew Mitchell, Marin, King and Wells and were with them, along with two others they identified as ‘Jason’ and ‘Luke’ on Friday night in downtown Barrie.

They say they separated from the group around 4am

« We just thought they were going home or whatever they were doing, » Bryant-Nordeen said. “We were actually supposed to go out with Jersey and Haley the next day. When everyone started posting the missing (people) stuff and they didn’t respond, that’s obviously (when we) knew something was wrong,” she added.

Both women said they were supposed to leave with the group but decided to return home at the last minute.

« It’s really hard to think about it, » Graham said. « It makes me think that…if we had been there, we might have been able to stop him. »

Bryant-Nordeen described the victims as « a large group of people ».

« Curtis was funny, Curtis was super funny, » she added. “Jersey, no matter what, she always had your back; she was just feisty and just a super sweetie,” she added.

Graham compared Mitchell to « a big sister. »

Marin and Wells were « certainly some of the purest people I’ve ever met, for sure, » Bryant-Nordeen said.

West left an impression on Jim Lowe, who coached him with the Barrie Bombers lacrosse team for more than a decade.

Longtime Barrie Bombers lacrosse player Luke West is seen as a leader by his coach after a weekend accident claimed West's life.

« I’ve coached thousands of kids over the past 25 years and if I had to name the kids who meant the most to me…he would be on a very short list, » Lowe said Sunday, after speaking to family. of West. “He made you care about him because he just had that passion and that fire in front of him. This is the absolutely devastating loss of a good human being. He was trying to make the world a better place, he was giving back.

Loren Mathias attended Barrie North Collegiate Institute with Mitchell and Marin. She said she received a call about the crash on Sunday and said her heart had raced and she felt « sick ».

« It doesn’t feel real, » she said.

Mathias said the trio connected in high school and quickly became « best friends ».

« They were both funny and always had a really big smile on their face, » she said. « The worst part is thinking about how much time they had left and everything they were going to do. That’s the hardest part. I look at a lot of pictures and cherish all the good times.

She has been friends with Marin since elementary school and said she was a loyal person who wanted to be a social worker.

« She’s always been there for me in my life, » Mathias said. « She was there for every breakup I’ve ever had, every life event, every house I’ve lived in. »

Of Mitchell, Mathias has so many great memories, including cooking, coaching and talking about their future.

« Jersey wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, but she definitely wanted to help people, » she said.

Sunday’s crash came just over a week after another fatal car crash in Brampton, Ont. killed three teenage siblings and two days after a 16-year-old boy died in an accident in Palmerston, Ontario.

With files from Dorcas Marfo


Frank Matys is a reporter for Orillia Today. It covers a range of topics, from events at City Hall to people profiles and social issues.
Ben Cohen is a reporter in Toronto for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @bcohenn


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