Hailey Dunn Remembered by Hundreds, Community still Illuminated with Hope

"We are here to remember the life of Hailey Dunn," said Colorado City middle school principal Mark Merrell as he opened up the memorial at "The Pit."

Twenty eight months after she disappeared, the search for Hailey Dunn has come to an end.

"This means this is the true end," said searcher Kristy Turner

Some of the memories shared were happy.

"She was always making the girls and I laugh," said Rebecca Kimbler, Hailey's coach. "Whether it be in practice, the classroom or bus trips out of town."

And some made them laugh.

"She had no problem expressing the opinion, 'Maxie-Poo, you have the biggest butt in the 8th grade,'" Hailey's teacher Andra Maxwell told the crowd. 

But their messages were all the same: they miss her spunk and they miss her laugh.

"I miss the many times I was doing dishes and looked out the window to see Hailey pretending to put on a rock show, unaware that anyone was watching," said Billie Dunn.

"The day that Hailey found her brother David's name in a textbook, she squealed and giggled with delight," said Maxwell. "She even wrote him a note in that text book, over the entire back cover of the text book."

The pit was a place where Hailey played multiple volleyball and basketball games and even went to gym class. And for the searchers who never met her, it was a difficult experience remembering her in a place that she loved so much.

"I sat there and I thought that, it was pretty hard," said April Wehba, searcher. "I'd come in here and I thought how much I'd love to be seeing Hailey down there playing those sports."

As hundreds of family members, friends, classmates and community members lit their purple candles, it was easy to see that the impact Hailey left on her community will never burn out.

"It was just awesome knowing that this was for Hailey," said Turner.

"It's just like going back to Hailey's Hope and seeing all the love," said Wehba. "All of this love for this little girl."

A little girl who will be truly missed.

"Hailey was definitely one of a kind and the world has truly lost a gifted child," said Kimbler. "But heaven has gained a beautiful angel."

"She's more than a pretty face, more than a jokester. More than intelligent. More than a saxophone player. More than an athlete. More than a little determined. She is now a blissful angel," said Dunn. 

And the message is clear: the painful end of this 28 month long search is still illuminated with hope.

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