Stephanie Bower holds back tears as she reads a recent letter from Claire Barnett. Barnett’s daughters, Coriander and Blake, were traveling with their dad, David Clemetson, and stepmom, Carolyn Clemetson, when Alaska Airlines 261 crashed in 2000.
Sketched Jan. 28, 2015
It’s been 15 years, but Queen Anne resident Stephanie Bower hasn’t forgotten about her neighbors, the Pearsons and the Clemetsons. The two families — four adults and six children in total — were among 88 people, most with Seattle-area ties, whose lives were cut short when Seattle-bound Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crashed off the coast near Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2000.
To remember them, Bower and other neighbors will hold a candlelight vigil at Soundview Terrace Park at 4 p.m. Saturday, like they do every year, rain or shine.
The park, also known as Rachel’s Playground, is one positive thing that came out of the tragedy. After the plane crash, as a way to honor the lives lost, Bower led the community in the renovation of the old park, holding fundraisers, asking for grants, hiring landscape architects and decorating hundreds of ceramic tiles with messages of friendship and love.
The effort gave the neighborhood a safe spot for kids to play, said Bower. But it also helped the community deal with the grief and brought everyone together.
“It’s really wonderful to come here and see all the kids playing,” Bower told me. “It makes me so happy.”