LAKE LUZERNE, N.Y. – After a bus crash killed a Lake Luzerne teen nearly two weeks, family and friends came together Thursday for a special birthday remembrance.
Hunter Scofield would have turned 16 Thursday, and family and friends are holding what's being called a birthday party at Hadley Park where they will hold a balloon launch in his memory.
He was killed on July 5 while working as a river guide for Tubby Tubes, a popular river rafting company. He was on a bus with customers on their way to a tubing site when the bus rolled over. Scofield was ejected and died.
Chris Duel was on the basketball team with Scofield.
“When it first happened, I knew I had to do something for the family, friends and community,” he said. “So I knew his birthday was coming up, and I knew I had to throw a big party for him.”
The 17-year-old said it was tough losing a friend and wanted to organize the party to celebrate Scofield’s life.
“He was very smart,” he said. “He was very athletic. He was the nicest kid I knew. He was the kid that liked everybody, and everybody liked him.”
Many local businesses donated food for the event. Organizers also collected donations to set up a scholarship fund in Scofield’s honor.
A makeshift memorial was setup at the intersection where the accident occurred. It contains a Tubby Tubes t-shirt, a basketball, balloons, flowers and more. A rock erected from the Hudson River will soon be included. Chris Cleary is the artist carving it.
“This one hits a lot closer to home,” he said. “This, I was meant to be here if that makes sense.”
Cleary and his wife were on the bus with Scofield the day of the crash. He didn’t know the teen personally, but as soon as he learned they needed someone to carve the stone, he knew he had to get involved.
“I only got to know him 15, 20 minutes, but I could tell he was hardworking, very proud of his job and incredibly brave standing where he was standing,” he said.
Organizers also held a balloon release at 7 p.m. and shared stories of joy and laughter.
“He’s just someone you could go to for anything, and he’s an amazing person,” friend Callie Kader said. “He was so funny, and he told amazing stories.”
And while the community is mourning the loss of one of their own, they’re relying on love to get them through the hard time.
“Treasure what you’ve got, and who you got now cause you never know when they could be gone, or when you might not have them anymore,” friend Ryan Beaury said.
Originally, state police said a mechanical failure led to the crash, but they have since ruled that out. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.