About one thousand people attended a memorial service in St. Paul, Alta. Friday evening for Megan Wolitski, the Grade 6 student who died last week after a minivan crashed into her classroom.
Pictures of the 11-year-old were shown on a big screen at the St. Paul Recreation Centre as a prayer was read. The cover of the program had a picture of the smiling young girl dressed as a ballerina.
"She was loved by a lot of people and she seemed to be a very kind and loving young girl," an emotional Dixie Coleman said after the service.
"She's the same age as my daughter. It's so hard to have something ... so unnecessary happen."
Wolitski died in hospital on Oct. 26th, one day after the crash. Two other students in her Grade 6 French class at Racette Junior High School also received critical injuries and are still recovering in hospital
Christine Warkentin said that Wolitski was very involved in many community activities.
"Two days prior to her death she was selling Girl Guide cookies and many people said she was at their door," Warkentin said. "She was the life of the classroom."
Wolitski's funeral is scheduled to take place on Saturday morning at St. Paul Roman Catholic Cathedral.
Earlier on Friday, Wolitski's uncle and family spokesman Les Miskolzie thanked hospital staff, first responders and RCMP for their care and compassion.
"We would also like to thank all Canadians for their kind words and prayers. They have provided comfort to the family," he said.
"Finally, we would like to thank the town of St. Paul for their generosity and support. We are honoured to live in such an amazing community."
All over St. Paul, there are pink hearts in the windows of homes and local businesses to honour Wolitski and the students who were injured in the crash.
The family of one of those students, Angelina Luce, also conveyed their appreciation for the public's support in a message relayed by Alberta Health Services.
"Angelina is in stable condition but she still has a long journey to recovery ahead," they said in a written statement.
"Angelina misses her classmates and is in mourning for a dear friend and concerned for another. We simply ask that you keep all three families in your prayers and respect our privacy."
The third student remains in an Edmonton hospital
On Thursday, a judge in St. Paul turned down a bail request made by Richard Benson, the man accused in the crash.
Benson, 46, is charged with criminal negligence causing death, two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.