An array of candles formed a path from home plate to centerfield where Josh Desrosiers once played slo-pitch games for the Base Invaders in Philip Jackman Park on Saturday.
The team’s last game was in August. On that same field they played in a charity tournament for five-year-old Sylas O’Riley who had been diagnosed with leukemia.
Desrosiers, 22, was one of two killed after an accident in Harrison Nov. 3, along with Devon Bruce – where their SUV tumbled down a slope and into Harrison Lake.
The crash happened around the 14-kilometre marker of the Harrison East Forest Service Road, about 160 kilometres east of Vancouver – near a popular campsite.
The only remaining survivor was Sarah Ellison of Aldergrove, Desrosiers’ girlfriend.
Ellison’s twin sister Hailey organized a candlelight vigil for the two men Saturday night, Nov. 9, with the help of the Base Invaders.
Desrosiers, Bruce, and Ellison families were led down a candle-lit pathway to the sound of bagpipes. At the end of their trek, the mourners arrived at Desroises’ yellow slo-pitch jersey.
Only the grandmother of Ellison had enough stamina then to speak.
“Thank you for being heroes to Sarah,” she exclaimed over a sea of hundreds of candles held by mourning friends, extended family, and teammates.
“Sarah will honour your memory and do the best in everything she does.”
Desrosiers and Ellison had been together for eight months before that fateful day.
Desrosiers’ father Marc spoke of their bond as something that “seemed like they’d been together for much longer.”
“We are thankful that the life of Sarah was spared. She was a big part of Josh’s life and we support her on her physical and mental recovery,” he said.
Marc was amazed by the turnout of hundreds who came to remember the life of his son.
“Many of them are Josh’s friends that I don’t know,” Dad admitted tearfully.
“He touched the lives of so many” and it was something the whole family, including his younger brother Jordan, who plays for the Aldergrove Kodiaks, realized.
The Desrosiers family was flooded with condolences, tears, and hugs from hundreds.
After the car crashed into Harrison Lake on Saturday, people in attendance praised Desrosiers for keeping Ellison warm as she huddled on his lap before mustering enough strength amongst her injuries to swim underwater and onto shore.
There, she did her best to stay warm and after many hours flagged down a fishing boat passing by as to her dire need for help.
By that time, it was the morning after the crash, Sunday (Nov. 3) at 10 a.m. that emergency personnel were alerted to the partially-submerged vehicle.
The RCMP, as well as BC Emergency Health Service and the Kent-Harrison SAR team, were all at the scene around 10:45 a.m., according to a Black Press Media freelancer.
Ellison was immediately airlifted to hospital, and is still recovering from her injuries. At the vigil, many in mourning expressed their sheer anguish.
Desrosiers’ father Marc was at a loss for words after hearing family members and friends call his son a “hero” after hearing first-hand what happened after the crash.
“Just knowing Josh, how he was, and who he is,” Dad said it makes sense.
An Aldergrove Community Secondary grad, Desrosiers studied welding at Kwantlen Polytechnic University after graduating and went onto work in the trades.
“He was one of those guys that couldn’t make an enemy if he tried. He was very patient and kind,” Marc elaborated.
Marc recalled his son keeping in touch with an elderly woman, to help her troubleshoot difficulties she was having with her TV after servicing her home.
Desrosiers also loved his sports including curling, baseball, skiing, snowboarding, and soccer, Dad said.
In 2014, Desrosiers was a member of the Tardi rink that qualified for the B.C. Winter Games a few years in a row.
Fellow curlers from the Langley Curling Centre left messages of condolence and support for the family on the centre’s Facebook page this week.
“Josh was a pleasure to be around,” wrote Wayne Moore.
“I had the privilege to coach him, play against him and I have to say his easy going happy demeanour will be missed.”
The community formed the letters “D” and “J” on Saturday, honouring the two dearly departed men using candles brought from home.
Bruce’s two young sons stood among the D, and their mother reminded them that the letter was for their father.
“For dad,” they both said softly.
Other children played with the leftover wax, creating Desrosiers’ first name in dirt near the dugout.
“He will be missed beyond what words can describe, this world will not be the same without him in it,” Marc said about his son.
The RCMP’s Integrated Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Service was at the scene investigating the crash site.
According to Sgt. Mike Sargent, an RCMP dive team returned to the scene Monday to assess the area and retrieve the two crash victims.
“Although we have some details, there are also many questions that have yet to be answered,” Dad said.