CONTINUING COVERAGE: FLOODS OF 2016

Vigil Causes South Side of Des Moines to Light Up For Lea

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A community roared together with pain Thursday night.

Dozens of motorcycles from local clubs and hundreds of other people showed their support of the Phann family after the death of 12-year-old Lea Phann, who died of her injuries in last Thursday's Des Moines car crash at Southeast 6th Street and Bell Avenue.

Sarak Mok, an uncle of Lea's said, "It's a blessing to have the community come together as one for her."

Many wore green, Lea's favorite color and lit candles. Other's sent lanterns into the sky, burning as bright as the Brody Middle School student's smile.

"Just the love we have for the community for a little girl, a special little girl," said Mok.

Last Thursday, Fernando Lopez Aguilar, an illegal immigrant without a driver's license, ran a stop sign and hit a truck which then hit the SUV Lea was a passenger in.

Mok said, "I didn't believe it at first but I started seeing the news and I was like, oh no way, this little girl just turned 12."

Whether friends, family or strangers, Lea's life seemed to touch all corners of the city. Sarah Wenck did not personally know Lea but joined in on the vigil.

"It's united the neighborhood. It's a little girl on the south side, we are all uniting and supporting each other," she said.

Those in attendance hope the same intersection that brought heartache just a week ago, can now bring healing and hope to the family and the entire community.

"It was hard for me to pull up here to see it but I believe she is looking down and wanted us to be here even if we were afraid to be here," said Mok.

Wenck agreed, saying, "having a positive image in a place where pain was before is so important. Hopefully, that can help people through the process and give them hope to where she is now."

In just one hour the vigil raised close to $700.

A visitation will be held Friday at Hamilton's Funeral and Visitation Services in Des Moines from 4 p.m.-8 p.m.