Community mourns loss of 19-year-old Angela Briand
BUCHANAN — As the sun began to set over the Buchanan High School football field, hundreds of people filed into the stadium to celebrate the life of 19-year-old Angela Briand, who died Friday in an automobile accident.
Two of her best friends — Morgan Richer and Bethany Herman — stood at the entrance next to a pair of boxes in which people could drop off pictures and memories of the popular 2015 Buchanan High School graduate.
Many people were already in tears as they walked through the brick gates Monday evening.
Richer and Herman greeted nearly every visitor with a tearful hug as they shared brief stories about Angela and comforting words.
Richer, of Niles, had been friends with Angela since kindergarten when Richer dropped a box of crayons and Angela helped her pick them up.
“We had a strong 14 years of friendship after that… She was my sister,” Richer said. “Her smile, her laugh were so contagious. She was beautiful… orange hair, blue eyes. She just stood out in front of everyone. She could never hold a grudge — even when she was mad she would laugh. She wanted to forgive everyone and be friends with everyone.”
Herman, who knew Angela for nearly a decade, also said they were as close as sisters.
“I will remember her most for her positivity and her helping nature. She picked me up and we just loved each other,” the Niles woman said. “I am just going to try to pass that along, pay it forward.”
In addition to spreading joy to everyone around her, Angela also had a passion for helping the homeless.
Friends and family said she would collect clothes and food to give to area homeless people.
“She lived life to make other people happy. That was her goal,” said Angela’s father, Rick Briand. “She wanted to make the world a better place.”
Several family and friends spoke at the candlelight vigil, including Stacey Carlin, who was one of Angela’s teachers at Buchanan High School.
Angela transferred to Buchanan from Niles at the start of her junior year.
Carlin said Angela’s smile, laughter, fearlessness and generosity helped her not only fit in at her new school, but become a leader almost instantly.
She even earned a front row spot in Buchanan High’s student cheering section — a symbol of her acceptance.
“A laugh is a powerful tool for a teenage girl to wield… she used hers to break down walls and build friendships,” Carlin said. “By the second week of school it was as if she’d always been here.”
Rick said the support he and his family have received has been important in helping them grieve.
He said he is proud of his daughter, who touched so many lives in just 19 years.
“Knowing that she was a good soul helps me a lot. There is nothing that would keep her from going right to heaven,” he said. “I keep telling myself everybody has to do so many good works in life, but she must have done them all already. That is all that I can figure. She got them right out of the way and she gets to move on.”
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