Huddled together outside the Edmonton courthouse, their grief was palpable.
Family and friends of 21-year-old Maygen Bell-Cirone wore custom shirts that read “Justice for Maygen” while holding homemade signs on Wednesday.
“It’s not something I ever thought I’d have to go through, to say goodbye to her. It’s something I don’t think myself or any of us are going to ever recover from,” said Lauren Putters, Bell-Cirone’s best friend.
Bell-Cirone had been out drinking with friends. On Sept. 11, her mom Linda Bell texted her daughter’s phone and got a call back right away.
“Cam phoned me at 7:02 and said, ‘Linda, there’s been a bad accident. You need to come right away.’”
Bell started driving, not knowing exactly where she was headed, but she followed the lights of first responders to the scene, off Highway 19 and 138 Street, near the airport.
“Cam said, ‘Linda, I don’t know what happened,’ and I fell to my knees because I saw the damage to the car,” she recalled.
“The firemen picked me up and walked me over to the ambulance and opened the door. They told the attendants, ‘Mom’s here,’ and they said, ‘We don’t have time. We have to go. Shut the door.’”
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So once again, Bell got into her car, following the ambulance to the hospital.
She couldn’t see her daughter there, either. Bell-Cirone was being examined by doctors and surgeons. She had lower-body injuries.
At one point, Bell said Bell-Cirone went for a CT scan, which revealed the young woman didn’t have any brain function.
Only then did her family get a chance to say goodbye.
“She never woke up but we had a chance to talk to her and hold her hand, and tell her how much we loved her,’” Bell said.
The news spread quickly. Bell-Cirone was a passenger in the vehicle that day. Cam, the person who’d called her mom, was the driver. He was a close friend, who’d even lived with Bell-Cirone’s family for a few years in the past.
RCMP said he was going fast and started drifting before hitting a pole.
“Honestly, I’ve never been so heartbroken,” said Putters.
Probably one of the worst days of my life,” recalled Sung Saunders, another one of Bell-Cirone’s friends.
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Investigators charged 22-year-old Cameron Klatt with impaired driving causing death.
He was supposed to enter a plea in court Wednesday, but the appearance was rescheduled.
“It’s really hard because you want justice, but on the other hand, you know the person. It makes it difficult,” Bell-Cirone’s mom said.
“He was a big part of our family, and we trusted him with Maygen. We never thought he would do her any harm.”
Friends, family call for ‘Justice for Maygen’ after fatal collision south of Edmonton
Bell-Cirone is being remembered as an outgoing, carefree young woman.
“She loved making bracelets, arts and crafts. She loved being with her friends,” Putters said.
“She was always happy. Didn’t matter if you were in a bad mood, she could cheer you up anytime, dancing and singing. She was a great big sister,” Bell said.
The crash scene has been cleaned up, but now a memorial is a constant reminder of a life cut short. Dying flowers, melted candles and loving messages are left behind for a young woman who will never get the chance to fulfill her dreams.
“That’s probably the worst part. She just wanted to be a mom. She wanted to help people. She was going to go to school to be a social worker,” Bell said.
“They were just 10 minutes from Maygen’s house when it happened. She was so close to coming home, but she never made it through that door,” Putters explained.
While nothing can bring Bell-Cirone back, her loved ones hope her death is a wake-up call to others.
“It’s reckless and just idiocy to drink and drive, honestly. It just causes harm,” Saunders said.
“Call an Uber, call your mom, call me. I’ll pick you up. Just don’t get in that car,” Bell said, fighting back tears.
“Drinking and driving and reckless driving is dangerous and it can impact your life in a way you’ll never know. It took our daughter, and we just miss her every day.”
The Bell-Cirone family has set up a GoFundMe page to support them with funeral expenses and lost wages.
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