EL RENO — As large snowflakes slowly drifted in the March night air outside the Jenks Simmons Fieldhouse on Wednesday night, a community gathered in warmth to remember two students and one teacher who passed away.
A microphone was passed from person-to-person across the wood gym floor in El Reno as students recited hand-written notes of remembrance to the crowd. Soft music played as the crowd held up cellphone lights as a form of tribute.
The vigil, organized by the El Reno High School student council, served as the somber rallying point for a community reeling from the deaths of two students, Jesse Gorbet and Karson Baker, after a two-vehicle accident on Sunday. It also paid tribute to Susan Veekner, a longtime foreign language teacher at the school, who died Tuesday from injuries resulting from a vehicle accident in January.
Hundreds in attendance honored Gorbet and Baker — sophomore student athletes whose classmates described as “special people” and “great guys.”
El Reno sophomore Josh Castrop was a passenger in the pickup who survived. He spoke at length about Gorbet, his best friend, and Baker, his lifelong neighbor.
“They were special people in my life,” Castrop said.
“They were special people in everyone’s. It’s just tough to see them go.”
Gorbet, 16, was a starting varsity wrestler known among his teammates as a lighthearted jokester who often boasted about his chiseled physique.