CAP-PELE, N.B. – Four teenagers who were killed in a highway crash in southeast New Brunswick were being fondly remembered Sunday while people in their home community of Cap-Pelé grieved their loss.
“They were hardworking people who enjoyed life, people who were good friends together,” said Rev. Louis-Joseph Boudreau, a Catholic priest in the small Acadian fishing village of 2,300 people.
The four victims, all from Cap-Pelé, died when their car crashed into a culvert and rolled several times on Route 115 in Notre-Dame early Saturday morning. Police say speed was a factor in the crash.
Boudreau said Justin Léger, Sébastien Léger and Justin Brown — all 18 years old — had graduated high school, while 17-year-old Luc Arsenault was to graduate at the end of this school year. Justin Léger and Sébastien Léger are not related.
Boudreau said a funeral service for all four young men will be held Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Église de Paroisse Ste. Therese D’Avila in Cap-Pelé.
He said it will be a celebration of their lives.
“It is the end of their life, but they have already given a lot to the community, to their family,” said Boudreau inside Ste. Therese D’Avila on Sunday above the sound of a choir singing hymns. “It is that hope that I expect to share with the congregation, with the families especially.”
Boudreau said the loss of four young lives is difficult at any time, but particularly hard during the Christmas season.
“I hope that we will be able to change this shroud of grief so that the joy of Christmas may be able to grow as we live with them,” he said.
Cap-Pelé Mayor Debbie Dodier said the municipality is asking people in the community to keep their Christmas lights turned off until after the victims are buried.
She said the community is trying to come to grips with the tragedy.
“Yesterday they were in shock, today I think they are in disbelief, and tomorrow we don’t know how it’s going to be,” she said on Sunday. “Right now the focus is with the four families.”
Dodier, who is also the principal at the elementary and middle school in Cap-Pelé where some of the young men had attended, said the boys were all good friends.
“They were four good boys,” she said. “They liked hockey, they played sports … average kids.”
A Christmas ball that had been scheduled for Saturday night at a high school in nearby Shediac where one of the victims attended was cancelled and grief counsellors were brought in. Counsellors were also being made available Sunday afternoon.
Flags at the village office and at the Shediac high school were flying at half-mast Sunday.