A passerby said the informal memorial to three Ballard High School graduates who died in a car accident April 4 at the west end of Market Street made him stop and consider the fragility of life.
Friends, family remember car crash victims
It’s windy. Cold. Wet. There’s not much happening on the corner of Northwest Market Street and Northwest 54th Street except for three people who stare silently at a memorial of flowers, cards, beer cans and belated Easter chocolates at the foot of a sign pole in the Taco Time parking lot.
Max McMorrow reaches up and softly touches the pole. He gets dirt on his fingers, but he doesn’t wipe it off.
The pole bears the scars and scrapes from an early morning car crash April 4 that killed McMorrow’s close friend Mike Turner, 20, along with Kellen Jones, 20, and Spenser Millard, 19.
According to the Seattle Police Department, the red 1986 Pontiac Firebird was speeding when it slammed into the steel pole.
“He was a good guy,” McMorrow said of Turner. “He befriended anybody. He wasn’t really a judgmental person.”
All three men graduated from Ballard High School. A fourth passenger, a teenage girl, was injured. She remained in critical condition through Tuesday and was upgraded to serious on Wednesday morning, according to Harborview Medical Center.
McMorrow drove down from Hoodsport to pay tribute to his friend the day after the crash. Turner, an admirer of American muscle cars who aspired to become a mechanic, had given McMorrow a few tips on how to work on his truck.
“Too young,” McMorrow said simply.
The young men were well-known in the Ballard community, and Ballard High School principal Phil Brockman attended high school with Jones’ father.
Brockman got to know the three in their four years at Ballard. Jones and Millard played football, and Turner was on the wrestling team.
“[Jones] was just one of those happy kids walking down the hall,” Brockman said. “He had this infectious smile that made you feel good and welcome.”
Millard, who Brockman described as one of the students that couldn’t be missed when walking down the hallway, worked as a dockman at Ballard Oil, which is owned by Millard’s grandfather, Warren Aakervik.
Aakervik said Millard was full of life and beloved by the fishermen who worked at the docks.
“He was a big brute of a guy, but gentle as a lamb,” Aakervik said. “He was at the beginning of his life, working here, and all the fishermen loved him and liked to be around him.”
Two fishermen who sailed in the night after the crash were devastated when they heard the news. A few called from Dutch Harbor to offer their condolences. It was a family business, Aakervik said.
“He was like his grandpa—really smart, but lazy,” Aakervik said, managing a restrained laugh.
Brockman said Turner was a quieter guy – a little more discreet than Jones or Millard. Brockman didn’t get to know him until Turner’s junior year, when he “came into his own.”
“The wrestlers had practice right outside the main office in the commons area,” Brockman said. “For a kid that was really pretty new to wrestling, he did really well. He worked hard, he practiced hard.”
A string of senior students at Ballard High School, including Millard’s younger brother, were close to the crash victims. Administrators, counselors and a mental-health specialist are offering support to the students as they grieve the loss of their friends.
“It’s that sad story that you really hate to see or hear about with our kids,” Brockman said.