Ice skates hang in Mt. Brydges to remember teenage skater killed in crash

People in Mount Brydges, Ont. are pulling together in support of the Kernaghan family. 13-year-old Avery Kernaghan died Saturday on her way to a provincial synchronized skating competition.

Avery Kernaghan was killed Saturday on her way to a provincial skating competition

People in Mt. Brydges, Ont. are hanging ice skates from their mailboxes in memory of Avery Kernaghan. The 13-year-old avid synchronized skater was killed in a car crash on her way to a provincial skating competition. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC News)

Friends and neighbours in Mount Brydges, Ont. are pulling together following the death of 13-year-old Avery Kernaghan.

Avery and her father, Doug Kernaghan, were on their way to a provincial synchronized skating competition in Komoka when their car collided with another vehicle.

Avery was pronounced dead in hospital, while her father remains in critical but stable condition.

Avery Kernaghan, 13, was killed in a crash on Saturday, Feb. 10, near Mt. Brydges, Ont. (Facebook. )

In Mount Brydges, a tight-knit community where hockey and skating are popular extracurriculars, the tragedy hit hard. 

Avery Kernaghan's mother, Chrissy, is a well-known skating coach, and Avery joined the sport as a toddler. 

"We're in a very small town in Mount Brydges, so everyone knows everybody. Skating knows hockey, hockey and skating knows school and so everybody knows Avery," said Cheryl McFadden, a close friend of the family and colleague of Chrissy's. 

McFadden remembers Avery as a dedicated athlete and a spunky teenager who was known affectionately as "Dolly" or "Sweet Pea."

A GoFundMe page set up for the family describes her as "a shining light," with a "fierce nature and contagious smile."

The page has already surpassed its $30,000 goal, receiving donations from more than 300 different donors. 

That money will help absorb some of the financial blow caused by the accident and the consequent loss of income, said McFadden. 

"When you're a skating coach you're self-employed. You have no benefits, and there's going to be huge expenses," she said. "The purpose of the page is to help this family so nothing in that regard has to be given a second thought."

Ice skates hang in memory

Beyond the GoFundMe page, another grassroots campaign has started up in Mount Brydges. On porches and mailboxes, ice skates hang in tribute to Avery and in support of the Kernaghan family.

Gina Harris came up with the idea. She lives down the street from the Kernaghans, and although she doesn't know them well, she wanted to find something that the family's outer circle could do to show their support. 

Gina Harris came up with the idea to hang skates. She hopes the skates will remind the Kernaghan family that their community stands behind them. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC News)

"In Mount Brydges, we are a small town and we're getting bigger every year. I think sometimes we need to remember our small town roots and that my neighbour is your neighbour," said Harris.

Lori Vandertuin feels the same way. She took skating lessons from Chrissy Kernaghan as a teenager, but hasn't been in close contact with the family in recent years.

Lori Vandertuin took skating lessons from Chrissy Kernaghan when she was a teenager, and wore the skates pictured above. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC News)

But she hung her skates up on her mailbox—the same skates she wore when she was Chrissy's student.

"It's just a reminder that we're all here for the family and we wish them well," she said. "You just want to be able to come close together and help everyone out."

About the Author

Paula Duhatschek

Reporter/Editor

Paula Duhatschek is an associate producer and reporter with CBC London. You can reach her at paula.duhatschek@cbc.ca.