(Video by Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News)
On Friday evening, Jamey and Dayna Durr stood with Gary and Shanna McPheters in an icy parking lot along Abbott Road. Surrounded by about 50 of their friends and supporters, they lit candles in memory of their daughters, Jordyn Durr and Brooke McPheters, who died at that spot in August. The two 15-year-olds were struck by a car as they walked along the pedestrian path. Police say the driver was drunk.
After a prayer and a moment of silence, well-wishers waited in line to greet and give hugs to the families. Dayna and Shanna said afterward that they felt the need to do something to honor their kids. They hoped the small ceremony would be an effective reminder to others during the holiday season that driving intoxicated could have tragic consequences. The two have been friends since their daughters met in kindergarten, they said. Over the years, the mothers have joined forces to watch out for each other and compare parenting notes.
“We had each other’s backs,” Shanna said.
After the deaths of Jordyn and Brooke, their bond only deepened. As difficult as the past four months have been, having a friend who is navigating exactly the same hurt has been an important comfort. They say they reach out to each other regularly.
Dayna Durr: “A lot of emails, a lot of texts. If we’re having a bad day or a bad moment, we can text each other and instantly know the other person knows exactly what you’re feeling and what you’re going through… It’s not going to take away the pain. It’s not going to change the outcome. How I feel about Shanna is, she not only understands that pain from a parent’s perspective, but … we’re sharing the same nightmare.”
Shanna McPheters: “We know no matter what that we’re always going to be available for each other.”
Originally published December 7, 2013 in Anchorage Daily News. Video by Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News.