When processions began in memory of Justin Bynum and Emily Ellis shortly after they were killed in an automobile accident in 2009, they were very sad and sorrowful and painful, Michele Fletcher recalled.
But it’s been a few years and as friends and family gathered for another cruise Saturday, there was still sadness and pain, but now there also are happy memories of good times with the teenagers, Ms. Fletcher said.
“We all think about (them) all the time during the year; it’s nice that one time during the year, we get together and remember them and share that happiness.”
The procession of about 30 motorcycles, cars and trucks formed at New Harmony Baptist Church and proceeded to Faulkner Park in tribute to Bynum 19, of Tyler, and Miss Ellis, 18, of Bullard.
Miss Ellis, a graduate of Bullard High School, and Bynum, a graduate of Grace Community School, were students at Tyler Junior College when tragedy struck. They had been dating nine months.
“The kids were loved and supported by many. It’s sad to be here. I’m glad they are loved,” he said.
Bynum’s mother, Linda Bynum, said the first couple of cruises were very hard. Now when she sees the participants pull together, “It fills our heart full of joy because you know that your children are not forgotten,” Ms. Bynum said.
She added, “Emily and Justin were wonderful children. These children of ours were giving, loving and God-fearing children; and they gave a lot to others.”
Ms. Fletcher described Justin Bynum as vibrant, happy, go-lucky, cheerful, enthusiastic and an all-around great young person who was a pleasure to be around.
Sherri Palmer remembers her son and Bynum were 4 years old when they met and became best friends.
“They loved each other like brothers and (he) was a friend to us,” she said.
The cruise, said her husband, Doug Palmer, was “just another way to celebrate his life. It’s just a joy to us to be involved in this. He didn’t meet a stranger.”
Reece Namanny knew the couple and hung out with them. The cruise, he said, keeps the memory of them alive and “shows we still care.”
Baylie Klaasen called Bynum one of his best friends in high school.
“He was fun and outgoing and full of life. We did some goofy stuff in high school; he was loud and outgoing,” Klassen said.
Cameron Ables considered both Miss Ellis and Bynum friends.
“They were always smiling, always in the crowd in the middle of everything, always doing something.
This (the cruise) is probably what they would like us to be doing,” Ables said.
Ables remembered driving around and hanging out in Tyler with the couple.
Miss Ellis and Bynum were like a brother and sister to Tucker Kirby.
“We did everything together. … Every Friday and Saturday night, we were out riding around and having a good time,” Kirby said.
“When I got the phone call (about their fatal accident,) I was in shock for a good three months. It was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with,” Kirby said “I had never lost anyone as close to me.”
The cruise, Kirby said, was a way to pay respects to Miss Ellis and Bynum.
“I know he and Emily are upstairs smiling. There will always be a place in my heart for both of them,” Kirby said.