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Cal-Mum community gathers to remember crash victims

Caledonia, N.Y.-- On Wednesday night, about 200 people gathered to remember and pray for the victim's deadly crash in Wheatland.

Taylor Binnert, 21, and Chris Peterson, 20, both died when the car Binnert was driving was broadsided by a tractor trailer on Rt. 36 and North Road in Wheatland.

Investigators with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office believe Binnert entered the intersection not knowing that it was not a four-way stop.

Emily Peterson, Michela Murphy and Joanne Kruchten were passengers in the backseat. As of Wednesday night, they all remain hospitalized in guarded condition.

All the victims were Caledonia natives and graduates of Caledonia-Mumford High School.

On Wednesday night, the First Presbyterian Church held a community vigil for all the victims.

The Petersons attend the church but priests and pastors from each of the victims' churches First Presbyterian to say a prayer for all the vicitms.

Many in the crowd shed tears and embraced each other in comfort during this community-wide tragedy.

It really hits home for you because it's really painful, explained Cal-Mum grad Mechelle Bradley. You went to high school with this people.

Those who knew Chris and Taylor say they were "good kids". They were loved and popular in the community.

The first responders in Caledonia and Mumford are also taking the loss hard.

Many of the firefighters know the victims or their families personally. Some of the younger firefighters even went to school with the vicitms.

One of our members is brand new, explained Dan Chapman, the deputy chief of the Mumford Fire Department. It was his first accident and it was probably one of the worst accidents I've seen in 25 years and then to add that to the fact that he knew some of the victims... We're keeping a close eye on him and keeping in contact with him and some of the Caledonia members to make sure they get through this.

Chapman is a lifelong Cal-Mum resident. He believes that his community will get through this tragedy with the support of each other.

On Wednesday 13WHAM News also had the chance to talk to Michela Murphy's father. He said the injured girls need everyone's prayers.

He also expressed gratitude to the firefighter departments that responded to the scene.

[A firefighter] laid there next to my daughter and held her until help arrived, said Mike Murphy. He's a hero for doing that.

Lt. Chapman said hes proud of his firefighters and their response to this accident, despite their personal connections with the victims. He explained that over the past two days, many people have expressed thanks to the fire departments.

There are very few people who still this and there is a lot of post-stress involved, but comments like that [from Mr. Murphy] are why we do what we do. Those are those things allow us to go on because of the appreciation we get from the families. Those are the things that help us get through.

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Washington Times