ALTON - After the tragic death of 17-year-old Trinity Buel in a car accident just after midnight Saturday, Feb. 12, friends and family members gathered at her favorite park in Alton to celebrate her life with a candlelight vigil.

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Buel was in the passenger side of her Jeep when it collided with a Cadillac SRX in the early morning hours of Saturday. The driver of the Jeep and Cadillac both sustained minor injuries, Alton Police Public Information Officer Emily Hejna said. While that loss of a young girl is still heavy on the hearts of dozens of friends and family members, they were able to gather around a fire at Piasa Park and remember her Wednesday night.

Generosity and a genuine love of animals were among the things most remembered by the people who loved her most. They shared stories of the young woman pulling off to the side of the road to chase cats in her ripped shoes just to rescue them. Many said Buel would give the clothes off her back.

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One friend said Buel has been friends with her for a long time and has been shopping for baby clothes with her. The friend, who is currently pregnant, said she would bestow Buel's middle name - Marie - to her unborn child upon birth in her good friend's honor.

Buel's boyfriend also read a letter he wrote her in which he referred to her as his "queen," hoping they would be together again someday. He then broke into tears - something many in attendance did as they spoke.

While tears were common, laughter was as well. Tales of Buel borrowing her friends' dogs and taking them through drive-thru restaurants, including Steak N Shake where she worked, and other tales of attempted animal rescues made many in the crowd remember the good moments they shared.

Her uncle, Kyle Hayes, brought his dog. He said it was one of many she would befriend and take places. Other people brought their canine companions as well - especially those who shared their love with Buel.

The candlelight vigil was held at Piasa Park, which is a place Buel loved. In fact, she wrote an article for environmental magazine Orion regarding those caves. An online copy of that article can be found here.

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