Thirteen months after a tragedy took the lives of three Moore High School cross country students, the school unveiled its symbol of remembrance Wednesday.
Moore Public Schools held a dedication ceremony for Memorial Park, a project the district started last November to honor Rachel Freeman, Kolby Crum and Yuridia Martinez, who died in a hit-and-run tragedy near the school on Feb. 3, 2020. The memorial was built near the pond on the south side of the school, where Max Townsend allegedly struck the three students and several others with his truck that was traveling nearly 80 mph.
The entrance to Memorial Park includes two columns with a plaque that informs visitors of the purpose of the memorial, while also sharing a message of love. The park also includes a sidewalk that surrounds the pond and a small platform over the pond where visitors can stand.
A brick memorial was also built on the sidewalk of the park that includes three individual plaques for Freeman, Crum and Martinez. The plaques include pictures of the students and Bible verses that were selected by each family.
Brown shoe prints were also engraved into the sidewalk outside Memorial Park, which were molded from the running shoes of each of the three students.
“What you see are actually the footprints from our children,” MPS superintendent Robert Romines said during the ceremony. “You will notice the order of the footprints is Colby, Rachel and Yuridia as they run to take their final steps on earth and finish their race in heaven.”
Attendance at the ceremony included MHS students and staff, along with Moore emergency personnel who helped administer first aid and capture Townsend quickly after the incident. The families of the three victims were also in attendance.
Romines said planning for the park began quickly in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“Not long after Feb. 3 last year, many of us began collaborating on ways to honor our Lions,” Romines said. “We wanted to provide a place of remembrance, a place to grieve, to heal and to unite in hope.
Shiloh Hutchinson, one of the students involved in the crash, also spoke at the ceremony. Hutchinson pushed two students out of the vehicle’s path before being struck, which pushed her into the pond where Memorial Park was built, according to testimony and police reports.
Hutchinson expressed her appreciation to first responders, her teammates and coaches on the MPS cross country team, and district staff for their efforts in the aftermath of the crash.
“Feb. 3 was an unexpected day — you don’t ever think that a tragedy like that can happen to you until it actually does,” Hutchinson said. “But throughout that, I saw a lot of good things in our community. I can’t thank our first responders enough. They mean so much to me on a personal level…
“You never think you’ll lose people that early in life. But when you lose people, you look back on it and you see it’s not about the time you could’ve had, but it’s about the times you did have. That’s something I take with me every single day. I know that there’s a plan and purpose, and I’m just waiting to see it out.”
Stefan Seifried, MPS track and cross country coach, spoke about the impact that the students had on their teammates and coaches.
“I look back on that day and it’s been a long road,” Seifried said. “I’m told by some of the administrators and other people that I was the rock, but really the kids have been my rock and our rock as a coaching staff.
“I can’t express our grief with you three families. But you know [Freeman, Martinez and Krum] still run and will run with us for the rest of our lives. These three kids will always be ingrained in everything we do in our cross country and track programs.”
Romines ended the ceremony by expressing the significance of the park and its meaning to the district.
“Memorial Park is a symbol of love, hope and family. We’ve always said that we’re moving forward, but we don’t ever forget. Their stories will forever be told.”