A community grieves

Hundreds of people packed into the gym at George Elliot Secondary Saturday afternoon to remember a young man who made a lasting impression across the community during his 18 years.

Derek Flowers-Johnson was killed on Feb. 8 when his Toyota Corolla collided with a semi truck on Highway 97, just south of UBC Okanagan.

After hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil in Derek’s memory in Lake County last week, many more packed into the Lake Country school's gym Saturday to grieve together as a community, and honour his memory.

Derek was a son, grandson, brother, nephew and uncle. He was a firefighter, a youth councillor with Lake Country City Council, a golfer, and a welder in training at Kelowna's Okanagan College.

He loved the outdoors and he loved country music. 

Based on the turnout Saturday, Derek clearly made an impact on those around him during his life.

“If a life well lived can be defined as having touched the hearts of another with love, then Derek was a stellar example of that life well lived,” Reverend Corinne Crocket said at the service.

“Again and again stories have been shared about how this one young man has touched the lives and the hearts of so many people.”

Following the service, Derek's father, Dale Flowers, said he was overwhelmed by the turnout and thankful for the support.

"I don't think I realized the magnitude, but there's really no words that I can say,” Dale said. “If there's a word that you can find that describes just how thankful we are, that's pretty much how we're feeling.”

Stories shared at Saturday's service highlighted Derek's kindness, sense of humour and integrity.

“He was an incredible guy, as you can see,” Dale said. “What he accomplished in 18 years, I'm 45 years old and I haven't done a quarter of what he's doing."

“There's a lot of things I'm learning out of this and one of them is that myself, I need to change and become more like Derek. That kid's my hero. I think a lot of people feel the same way, that he's taught us a lesson here.”

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