South Routt remembers fallen teens during service |

South Routt remembers fallen teens during service

Alexis DeLaCruz

— Christopher King Fuller and Sam Theodore Hedemark grew up together. They shared in adventures together and, on Saturday, the two South Routt teens were laid to rest together.

Burying the two teens, who died June 23 in an explosion in Rio Blanco County, side by side was a unique symbol, friends and family said during a joint memorial service held in Yampa.

“I had never heard of anyone doing that,” said Coty Dilldine, a friend of the boys who attended the service. “Seeing as how they passed together, it was fitting for them to be laid together.”

About 150 people attended Friday’s candlelight service in Oak Creek’s Decker Park as well as a graveside and memorial service held at the Yampa Cemetery and South Routt Elementary School.

Rev. John Brothers of the First Baptist Church in Yampa said services for young people always are difficult, although the South Routt community had banded together to support one another.

“When tragedy comes along, we as a community can support each other,” he said, standing beside the single plot the boys share in the Yampa Cemetery. “It’s important to do that and not just during the funeral, but to remember the families in the days that follow.”

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Brothers said the community support the Fuller and Hedemark families have received has been heartwarming.

Saturday “was encouraging to see that the people in this community turned out in such a great way to pray for and support each other,” he said. “I hope the families will realize the comfort and peace for the pain that comes with tragedy and death is healed only through Jesus Christ.”

Oak Creek resident Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman said it has been a tough week.

“There are so many children with broken hearts right now,” she said. “The stories we heard (Friday) were of the kids having fun together. I think it’s been hard for them to show that they’ve lost a playmate, a buddy. We’re such a tight community. Everybody knows everybody else.”

South Routt school psychologist Lea Treanor said the school district has offered additional support for students coping with the deaths of their classmates.

“We’ve tried to reach out and support our students with whatever they need,” she said. “Those services will continue to be available through the school district.”

Chelsie Benavidez, a longtime friend of Hedemark’s, said she felt comforted knowing Hedemark and Fuller were “looking down from Heaven” on Saturday.

“I really think they’re looking down on us right now, not at all surprised that all their friends are here,” she said. “I want them to know that we’ll never forget.”

Dilldine said she would always remember Fuller’s laidback personality and compassionate nature.

“When you first met Chris, he was pretty shy, but once you got to know, him he was the funnest guy you knew,” she said. “He would have done anything for anybody.”

Kathleen Foos, Hedermark’s mother and a Phippsburg resident, said the weekend’s services were what her son would have wanted.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “I can’t thank everyone who has helped or donated things to me or family enough.”

The past week in South Routt “has been hell,” but also an inspiration, Dilldine said.

“Everyone in this community has bonded together. This is just what we do when we lose one of our own,” she said.