A local fundraiser raises more than $50,000 for the families of 6 Barrie, Ont. accident victims | Pro IQRA News

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Donations are pouring in from across the country and abroad to support the families of six young adults killed in a weekend car crash in Barrie, Ontario, with the fundraiser quickly approaching its $60,000 goal after just one day online.

Organizer Mary Ann Frith says she was surprised by how quickly donations had flowed in less than a day after the GoFundMe page was posted.

“We were touched by that, that’s for sure,” Frith said during a phone interview.

“We have a community that we rally together, we have each other’s backs, and in times like this you really really see how people come together for each other.”

Curtis King, River Wells, Jason O’Connor, Luke West, Jersey Mitchell and Halle Marin – believed to be in their 20s – were killed in a one-vehicle collision at the southern end of Barry, about an hour north of Toronto. They were found early Sunday morning.

Frith says she doesn’t personally know the families of the victims, but says her group Ripple of Kindness started fundraising because community members were looking for a way to support those who mourn loved ones.

“All of this has definitely shaken our society,” she said.

“We felt compelled to do something to help these families who have been subjected to this terrible tragedy.”

Frith says the fundraising drive, which aims to help cover funeral costs, has been helped by social media, with donations coming in from other provinces and even across Canada. Other donations are also collected for individual families.

Frith said Barry Mayor Jeff Lyman was involved in the early organizing of the fundraising, and was among those promoting it.

In a Tuesday post on Twitter, the mayor highlighted a GoFundMe page that he said raised $40,000 in its first 18 hours.

“Thank you, thank you, once again, for your support of Barry — and everyone around the country who is helping too,” Lyman wrote.

A local college lowers the flag in memory of a missing student

College of Georgia confirmed to CBC Toronto that one of the victims was a post-secondary school student. The college referred to him as Jason Ono-O’Connor. The Ripple of Kindness fundraiser identified him as Jason O’Connor.

“Jason Ono-O’Connor was an exceptional student in our automotive business degree program with a very bright future ahead,” President and CEO Kevin Weaver said in a statement.

Weaver notes that he has consistently made the dean’s list, has been admired and respected by students and faculty, and was recently selected to be a director at the 2023 Georgian Auto Show—a “highly sought-after role” among students in recognition of his academic excellence and commitment to the industry.

Jason O’Connor, according to Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario, was a student in their Automotive Business program with a “very bright future ahead.” (Provided by Georgian College)

“The family showed us how much Jason loves his show and how excited he is about his upcoming career,” Weaver said.

“To Jason’s family, friends, colleagues, faculty and staff at the College, I offer my deepest condolences – as well as to the families and friends of all these promising young men who lost their lives. As a father, my heart breaks.”

In memory of Ono O’Connor, the Georgian flag was lowered on Barry’s campus, Weaver says.

The city of Bari lowered its flags in memory of the six victims on Monday, as sports organizations, friends and family paid homage to loved ones.

Vigil planned for the weekend

Frith said her group has made contact with families and is waiting for guidance from them about funeral plans. She said the fundraiser will remain online for at least a week while the next steps for disbursement are planned.

A vigil is planned on Saturday to remember the lives lost.

Bari police are still investigating the incident, which occurred in a rural area over the weekend.

Police said four men and two women reported missing on Saturday were believed to be the six who were found dead in the accident, which was not reported when officers arrived at the scene.

On Monday evening, police escorted the family members to the edge of a large concrete pit in the construction area where the accident occurred and they were seen throwing flowers into it.

The city of Bari says the junction has been closed since spring and the area is currently the site of a municipal construction project.


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