The Meriden community came together Friday night to remember 26-year-old Darin Robinson, his three-year-old son, Dacari Robinson, and his nine-year-old stepdaughter, Sanaa Leary Reynolds.
The three were all tragically killed in a car crash on I-95 in Waterford on Sunday, Oct. 12. But Friday night at City Park in Meriden, their families and friends gathered to remember better times and support each other.
"I know just seeing the community come together for him and for his kids and his stepdaughter and all that, I know this means a lot," said Darin's sister.
His mother also spoke to the crowd.
"As hard as this is for me, everybody who knows him knows he's comedian, and the only thing that has gotten us through the past four days has been his dumb stories and the dumb things he said. We laugh for hours and have buckets of tears but I just ask that everybody continue to laugh because that's the only thing that's getting me through right now," said Darin Robinson's mother.
At least 50 people crowded near a microphone, all holding lit candles, as loved ones spoke one by one. At the end of the vigil balloons were sent into the sky.
Perhaps the hardest hit is Baughnita Leary, who lost the man she loved and her two children--Dacari, who she had with Darin, and Sanaa, who she had with someone in a previous relationship--all at once.
Sanaa's grandmother spoke about how the losses hit home.
"And I'm just thankful tonight that we have such people that care and love us so much and I just don't know what I'm going to do without them," said the grandmother.
But amid the tears stood some with smiles in hopes of bolstering the spirits of those around them.
"Her kids were so precious and I'm a mother and I can't even imagine the pain that she's going through so I came out here to support--that's what everybody needs right now," said Darin's longtime friend, Sheila McNeil.
Pastor Dante Moss led the prayers.
"Either you know the mother, you know the father, you know the grandmother, or the kids, so this was the expectation that Meriden will come out and support, Meriden will support," said Moss, explaining the large turnout.
The candles may have lit the way for healing Friday, but it's the community who will help the families as the days roll on.
"I encourage everyone to continue to try to donate any way you can or send your condolences and keep the prayers coming because they are needed," said longtime friend Deb Ortiz.
Baughnita Leary’s employer, Regan Technologies, has set up a fund for those that would like to make a donation.
The Baughnita Leary Fund
c/o Regan Technologies
860 N. Main Street Extension
Wallingford, CT 06492
For more information on the Baughnita Leary Fund contact Donna Regan, director of human resources, at 203-284-4125