The fourteen thousand foot mountains around Buena Vista appear small when compared with the mountain of grief the town feels about the family lost in a rockslide near Agnes Vaille Falls.
“Sometimes you think that you’re finally going to get through it and then something catches your eye and reminds you of the family,” said Buena Vista Head Football Coach Matt Flavin.
Dwayne Johnson, 45, was a receivers coach on the team. His wife, Dawna, 44, was a track coach. Their oldest daughter, Kiowa-Rain, 18, was a senior at the school.
The sheriff's department said the other victims were Baigen Walker, 10, and Paris Walkup of Birch Tree, Mo. They were stepbrothers and nephews of Dwayne and Dawna Johnson.
The youngest Johnson daughter, Gracie, 13, remains in the hospital recovering from injuries including a broken leg.
Students and much of the town gathered at the football field Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil.
“No one can explain it, but we’re going to get through it,” Flavin said.
Flavin had been friends with Dwayne for a decade he says. His football team demanded to get back on the field for practice and are preparing for a matchup with Rye on Friday.
“We’re trying to move forward because that’s what the family would want,” Flavin said.
Most who were asked to discuss their feelings stayed silent. The community choosing to mourn among themselves, but a boulder outside the school that has been used for school spirit for years, is now filled with dozens of messages of mourning.
“There’s a lot of heartfelt messages on that rock that everyone’s going to cherish for a very long time,” Flavin said.