TOPEKA (KSNT) – Family and friends of two girls killed in a tragic turnpike crash gathered around a tree last weekend at a west Topeka apartment complex to pay their respects in a special way.
Last year, a tragic crash on the Kansas turnpike on Oct. 8 claimed the lives of three Girl Scouts after the vehicle the girls were in was hit by a semi-truck. Local school officials and the CEO of Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri shared their sympathies for the victims of the crash: Kylie Lunn, Laila El Azri Ennassari and Brooklyn Peery.
The driver of the vehicle holding the girls, Amber Peery, was later charged with two counts of reckless involuntary manslaughter. The Shawnee County District Attorney, Mike Kagay, told KSNT 27 News that Peery is still facing the same charges and will have a hearing at 9 a.m. on Nov. 30.
Now, a little over a year has passed since the tragedy. However, time hasn’t healed all the wounds of those who knew and loved the girls.
The parents of Laila and Kylie, along with some close friends, came together at the Sherwood Apartments to pay their respects to the childhood friends whose lives ended too soon. They did so by nailing two plaques in the shape of butterflies to a tree near where the girls used to play. The butterflies bear the names of the girls and the phrase “Best Friends in Life and Thereafter.”
“That tree is where they used to play after school,” Francis Roth, a friend of the Lunn family, said. “Kylie and Laila lived in those apartments and played in the grass underneath the tree.”
Roth said they planned to put the butterflies in place on the anniversary of the crash but had to wait for the plaques to come in. The plaques were instead put in place on Saturday, Nov. 4.
“There’s still a hole in my heart and there always will be,” Jackie Lunn, the grandmother of Kylie, said. “It was sad. But we can’t bring her back.”
Kylie was born on Aug. 15, 2013, as the only child of Tiffany Lunn, according to her obituary. She was also a student at Farley Elementary School and is described as bringing joy to all those around her.
“Every day after school they’d be outside playing, right where the butterflies are at,” Tiffany said. “There’s been nobody playing there since their accident.”
Laila was born on Aug. 2, 2013, to Rida and Claudette El Azri Ennassari, according to her obituary. She was a student at Farley Elementary School and is described as being intelligent, honest, funny and caring. She had a love for art, painting and animals.
“They were great kids, they were great girls,” Tiffany said. “They were really happy girls.”
Tiffany said they wanted to do something special to honor the memory of the girls by putting the butterflies up.
“It’s crazy they died together too,” Tiffany said. “At least they didn’t die alone. If one lived and one died, it wouldn’t have been good. At least they didn’t have to go alone.”