"We don't want anyone to forget Brandee," Brandee's brother, Brett Siples, said to the gathered crowd at the informal dedication ceremony. "Brandee was such an amazing person, she deserves to be never forgotten. She lived life to its fullest every single day."
Around 10:40 a.m. Nov. 17, Siples, 17, a passenger in a vehicle driven by her boyfriend Cody Wright, 18, was killed in an automobile accident approximately two miles south of United States 40 on the Putnam County side of County Road 500 East (CR 900 West in Putnam County). Speed was a factor in the accident, causing Wright to lose control as his Camaro topped a small hill, became airborne and struck several trees before the vehicle landed on its wheels in a 20-foot ravine.
A group of friends and family members created a cross out of one of the trees Wright's car hit during the accident.
Evan Hayes, Landon Reinoehl, Corey Simonson, Sonni Burris, Dave McClelland, David Hayes, Lexi Morris, Jessie West and Heather Woods gathered with Brett to reminisce about Brandee Tuesday afternoon. It was during that conversation the idea to turn tragedy into triumph occurred, and the group moved into action.
Bruce Burris joined the group at the accident site to help cut the tree into several seven-foot lengths so they could form them into the memorial cross that bears Brandee's name, the dates of her birth and death and the Chevy logo.
"She would have loved it," Sonni Burris said while watching the cross be placed into the ground near the crash site. "It's just awesome."
Brandee's parents, Terry and Pam Siples, were impressed by the group's hard work and dedication to place the memorial before her funeral services today..
"Once they made their minds up, it was amazing to see how hard they worked to do this," Pam said.
Cody's parents, Doug and Kelly Wright, stood next to the Siples during the dedication ceremony of Brandee's cross. Due to his injuries, Kelly said her son, who is heart broken at the loss of the girl he planned to marry next spring, was unable to attend.
"It's been tough for all of us to get through this past week," Pam said as Kelly nodded in agreement. "We just need to get through one more day (Brandee's funeral), and then we turn our attention to Cody and helping him, and his family, get through this. She (Brandee) is at peace now and I know she is happy about this. She's whole now. Cody's been a part of our family since that first day. Now it's time to take care of him."