Last October, 13-year-old Christopher Croley was killed in a drunk driving accident. Today the community who loved him and knew him as Bubba was able to remember and celebrate his life.
Friends, family and Bubba’s eighth grade classmates came together to tell the stories they will always remember him by. And while closure for his parents won’t come until the man responsible is sentenced for his reckless actions, seeing aisles full of support helped in the grieving process.
“These children are just wonderful. They have remembered him in such a great way. I mean, you’d think as eighth graders they wouldn’t [be able to]. But their hearts have been broken and they just miss him so much, as much as we do,” said Jodi Betts Croley, Bubba’s mother.
“We’re doing well, but it takes a long time to get over something like this. It really does. It’s never going to go away, but we’re dealing with it very well, with the friends and family that we have,” noted Detective Sergeant Christopher Croley, Bubba’s father.
Both parents were deeply touched that representatives from the Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office and Mothers Against Drunk Driving were able to come and show their support. The heartfelt occasion was held in conjunction with National Crime Victim Rights Week, which promotes educating families on their right to give impact statements during sentencing, as well as the compensation they are entitled to.
“We just want to let the victims know about the rights that they have and try to involve them in the court process. I help them get through the process. I advise them on court dates, notifications, and also on going to court. Victims now have an opportunity to give an impact statement at a sentencing to let the judge know how this crime has affected them and their lives,” explained Cindy Boyer, the Victim/Witness Coordinator at the Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office.
“I’m just hoping that this educates people and gives them an opportunity to see the impact that this has on everyone emotionally. This hasn’t been something that has just been the family that is grieving. It’s all of his close friends, and all of his classmates. There are a lot of people that Christopher reached out and touched,” Sgt. Croley remarked.
The ceremony was also slated to include a tree planting ceremony, but the weather hasn’t allowed for the opportunity.
“The tree dedication offers new life, new hope, growth, and strength. By giving them an outlet for their grief, it should help with the healing process,” added Betsy Harris, a Victim Service Specialist at Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Bubba’s eighth grade classmates concluded the celebration by singing a poignant piece entitled, “My Best Days are Ahead of Me.”
“I just appreciate all the community support and what everybody has done for us in our loss. It’s greatly appreciated, and not forgotten,” finished Jodi, Bubba’s mother.