MILLCREEK — Shards of glass still littered the pavement and sidewalk as mourners and family supporters gathered at a candlelight vigil for 3-month-old Dayton Cook who died Saturday from injuries sustained in a car crash the previous night.
About 70 people gathered, cradling candles to celebrate the theme of the vigil displayed on a sign beside the road: "A perfect ending, for a beautiful new beginning".
The vigil was set for 8 p.m., Dayton's regular bedtime. The child's parents would light candles to sooth Dayton before bed and Sunday's remembrance echoed that family ritual now lost in a tragic traffic crash.
Dayton and his parents were involved in a four-car accident Friday evening, caused by another driver's medical condition. Police said a white Toyota RAV4 hit the Cook's red SUV causing the red SUV to spin out of control, hitting two other cars.
But Sunday was a night to say goodbye, even as it brought hope to others. The family has donated the child's organs so others may live. Keelie Cook said saying a final goodbye to her son before doctors retrieved his organs was the hardest thing she's ever had to do.
"But we know in the long run, it’s saving lives and he’s going to be their little hero," she said.
Christopher Cook, the child's grandfather, said he loved to sit and watch his happy grandson, but most of all he loved his eyes.
"He had just the biggest eyes," he said. "I loved his eyes. I nicknamed him Big Eyes because they were so big and so beautiful."
Keelie Cook said Dayton's smile was "the most amazing smile I've ever seen."
Dayton's parents said even in the brief time he was with them, he taught them everything.
"Just how to love something so small," Keelie Cook said. "He taught us how to be parents, and we taught him as much as we could. Anything he was willing to focus on we were teaching him."
Keelie Cook said she now has a message she will share for the rest of her life.
"Always kiss your kids goodnight," she said. "Kiss them before they leave, just randomly walk up and kiss them. Tell them you love them, because you never know whats going to happen. You just never know."
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: EmileeEagar