Lauren Sewell and Dallas Smith are seen together in this photo take by a friend during a stay at her parents' lakeside cottage.

Families grieve together for couple

Memorial services held for couple from Peninsula who died following plane crash

The parents of Dallas Smith and Lauren Sewell attended both memorial services for their children on Friday and Saturday.

Smith and Sewell, both former Peninsula residents, died when a PA30 Piper Twin Comanche crashed Aug. 13 about 30 kilometres west of Kelowna.

Smith, 30, was pronounced dead at the scene. Sewell, 24, succumbed in hospital.

About 250 people attended the Friday afternoon service for Smith at Victory Memorial Park Funeral Centre in South Surrey.

His mother, Pamela, described the moment when she learned her only child had been killed.

“When the knock came on the door, my heart was shattered,” she told the gathering.

Her son had been the source of great comfort over the three months prior as she dealt with the death of her partner, Billy, she said.

“(Dallas) was my compass. He was my true north, he was my due south. He was the reason why I got up in the morning,” Smith said. “He stood perfectly still and just held me together.”

The service was described as a somewhat interactive occasion, and included the lighting of a rainbow of candles – beginning with red, to represent “a mother’s love,” followed by orange, to acknowledge Dallas’s passions, and so on – interspersed with tributes. At various points, attendees were asked to call out en masse examples of things they knew Dallas to be passionate about.

One example – motorcycling – was on prominent display at the front of the room: a red Ducati Dallas affectionately named “Ginger.” Dallas’s gloves were resting on its tank, his jacket hung nearby and his helmet sat on a table facing the 250 guests who came to say their goodbyes.

Friends described a detail-oriented man who had musical talent. They joked about the excessive number of photos he took of himself. And they left no doubt his death left a void.

“Friends like him only come along once in a lifetime,” said one.

Pamela Smith thanked her son’s friends and the “village” of women who helped her son grow into the man he became.

“Without you guys, I would’ve been lost,” she said. “My son simply made me a better person.”

About 400 people attended the Saturday afternoon memorial service for Sewell at Valley View Memorial Gardens in Surrey. The memorial card given to mourners included a photograph of Sewell and Smith taken at her parents’ lakeside cottage. They had gone there with three other couples, and one of their friends captured the moment as Sewell and Smith sat close together, silhouetted by the setting sun.

Another photo showed a young Sewell on horseback jumping over a barrier in competition, a sport she loved.

At the service, nephew Hayden Billon spoke, describing how his aunt, who was just seven years older, was more “like a sister” to him.

When she was nine, Sewell created a hand-drawn children’s storybook, “the big city is berserk,” just for Billon, with original characters like “Peel the banana peel” and a variety of others based on figurines she made by hand.

The book and figurines were both on display.

There was also a series of photo collages, hundred of pictures tracing Sewell’s life from small child to young woman; five made by her family and three by her many friends.

Her family and friends who spoke at the service remembered Sewell as a generous and caring person, who made her final gifts as an organ donor, helping at least eight strangers.

BC Transplant organ donor registration cards were made available at the service.

On Monday, Sewell’s father, Greg, said he didn’t really get a chance to know the new man in his daughter’s life. They’d only been together for a few months. His initial impression was positive.

He now knows a lot more about Dallas after attending Friday’s memorial, he said. It revealed a man who was a good match for his daughter.

– Tracy Holmes & Dan Ferguson

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