Vigil hosted for Air Force family who died in a vehicle accident

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Elora J. Martinez
  • 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.-- A non-denominational vigil was held to honor the lives of Staff Sgt. Anthony James Dean, his wife Chelsi Kay Dean and their two children Kaytlin Merie Dean, 5, and Avri James Dean, 1, November 28, 2018, in the St. Timothy’s Catholic Church, Manvel, North Dakota.

The family was killed in a vehicle accident near Billings, Montana, over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Matt Bokke, Manvel Elementary School district administrator, spoke at the event, and shared personal stories to remember positive memories of the family.

“The Dean family quickly became invested in our community,” Bakke said, continuing on to explain how Anthony helped set up an ice rink to be used by the Manvel Freeze hockey team, which Kaytlin was involved in. He also said Chelsi volunteered for the Manvel Fire Department, and the family as a whole often joined local “Turkey Bingo” events.

The crowd of nearly 100 people who attended included families, friends and coworkers from base, the Manvel Fire Department and members of the local communities.

“This is a small town with a big heart,” said Steve Schumer, Manvel Fire Department chief. “We show each other support, and that’s been proved tonight with the turnout we got.”

Chief Master Sgt. Shannon Thomas, 69th Maintenance Squadron chief enlisted manager, said she was speechless to see so many members of the community come and show support for a family who only arrived in town earlier this year, and already made such a big impact.

“It’s important to me to see the community as a whole come together,” she said. “In times like this, the feeling you get having the support from those around you is indescribable.”

The vigil was put together by Katie Osowksi and Briana Theisen Bohm, both who attended St. Timothy’s with the Dean family. They said the effort put forward to organize the event was made so all who attended could come and grieve alongside their families, friends or neighbors in togetherness.

For Airmen and Grand Forks AFB members, the base chapel is offering further grieving and counseling services for those affected by the tragedy. For more information, call 701-747-5673.