WILLIAMSON – It was a somber evening at Lefty Hamilton Park as a candlelight vigil was held for Gabe and Allan Cantrell, two brothers who drowned this past weekend in a tragic swimming accident.
The brothers, who just finished the 7th grade at Williamson Pre-K 8, drowned while camping at the New River in Summers County on Sunday evening.
A huge turnout of classmates, teachers, friends and person from the community turned out for the vigil. They gathered around the infield part of Jim Van Zant Baseball Field with candles to remember the boys who were only 12 and 13 years of age.
The Williamson PTO organized the event, which featured singing by Elizabeth Pyskowski. The assistant principal of the school, Ralph Pyskowski, a local evangelist, led the group in prayer. Reverend Mike Bostic and Julius Hatcher, a coach at the school, helped lead the service.
Pyskowski said “We wanted the family to know we are here to support them and pray for them.”
“I knew the two young boys since they were in the first grade at Delbarton,” said Principal Shannon Blackburn. “They always had a positive outlook on life and were filled with joy. They will truly be missed here at Williamson next year.”
Michelle Ball of the Williamson PTO helped organize the event.
“I would like to say thank you to our community for showing so much love and respect for this family. During a time where nothing you can say will help, I truly believe the family could feel some peace last night knowing how many people loved Gabe and Allan,” Ball said. “Over the past week, I have contacted a lot of people asking for help with different things, and every single person came through. If they didn’t have what I needed, they went and found it. I am so grateful for the wonderful people in our community. I just want the Cantrell family to know we are here to help and support them in any way possible.”
“With the tragic loss of two of our students it was so comforting to witness such love and support from our Wolfpack family at the candlelight vigil,” said Jackie Branch, vice president of the Mingo County Board of Edcation who was at the event. “Williamson Pre-K8 Principals, numerous students, staff, PTO members, parents, and Mrs. (Paula) Brown, Assistant Superintendent, certainly symbolized that Williamson is ‘One Pack, One Heart, and Wolfpack Stong!’ I ask that our county please continue to lift this family up in prayer as they face difficult days ahead.”
A GoFundMe on-line account has been set up to help the Cantrell family. Donations were taken up at the night vigil to help the family with the funeral costs. The PTO was also selling maroon T-shirts for $10 with the slogan “Williamson Strong” printed on the back. All proceeds will go to the family. Checks can be made to the funeral home.
Ball will be set up at the Fieldhouse on Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. to collect final orders and money for the T-shirts. If they wanna make a check out to the funeral home or bring me cash, I can put it with the rest
Visitation is at Chafin Funeral Home of Delbarton on Thursday evening at 5 p.m. and the funeral is on Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.
(Kyle Lovern is the Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)