ST. XAVIER - The small community of St. Xavier on the Crow Indian Reservation is mourning the loss of three family members killed in a multi-car pileup on Interstate 90 on July 15, including 11-year-old Vichelle Walks, who would have been a sixth-grade student at Pretty Eagle Catholic Academy in the fall.
"Vichelle was one of the kindest people I’ve ever come across," said Garla Williamson, the longtime principal at Pretty Eagle Catholic. "Even on her bad days, she was still trying to bring everyone else up."
Vichelle was riding in a Chevrolet Traverse with three other people, and all four died. The other victims in the vehicle were 72-year-old Georgia Walks of Hardin, the driver, 22-year-old Shaylee Walks and 3-year-old Merrik Champ.
Both of Vichelle’s parents attended Pretty Eagle. The school opened its doors Monday to classmates for them to be able to grieve.
"Share stories of her, remember her," Williamson said. "All her classmates are her honorary pallbearers. We're just letting the kids know God has a plan, and this is part of it. Even though we might be able to understand it right now, we have to trust it."
The school is also planning its own memorial service when classes start again in a spirit garden in the school’s courtyard. It’s unfortunately something they’ve done before.
"We already had one student we lost," Williamson said. "We have a special place to honor their memory."
Vichelle’s funeral will be at the same time as her great grandmother Georgia and auntie Shaylee, Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Spirit of Life Foursquare Church in Crow Agency. It’s how they would have wanted it.
"I used to say they were like the Bobbsey twins," Williamson laughed. "They did everything with their grandmother, went to powwows and things like that. They were so close-knit.”
In life and in death.