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Community remembers Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers one year after crash

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Albany/HV: Community remembers Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers one year after crash
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It's been one year since the Shenendehowa community was shocked to learn it had lost two of its own. A memorial balloon launch was held Sunday at the Shen High football stadium. Barry Wygel was there and spoke with students to see how Chris Stewart's and Deanna Rivers' legacy lives on.

CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. -- Hundreds of students and community members gathered Sunday to mark one year since that horrific car accident on the Northway that killed Shenendehowa seniors Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers.

"She was always smiling and even though she is up there smiling, keeping her eyes right down on us. We just want to be happy and know that she is there," said Erika Daigle, Rivers' teammate.

Even though it's been a year since Deanna and Chris spent time with their friends and loved ones, their impact is still felt every day.

"She was always friendly, happy, you would never see her upset. She was that one person that would lighten your day and if you saw her, you would just have to smile," said Katie O'Gorman, Rivers' teammate.

Sunday's solemn anniversary was marked by a memorial balloon launch at Shen. Organizers say it was the perfect way to mark the occasion.

"It's simple. We have their colors purple and green and it just shows that we miss them," said Shannon Kelly, who helped organize the balloon release.

Even though most of Rivers' and Stewart's classmates have gone their separate ways this year at various colleges, they say they will be forever linked together.

"We are always going to be bonded through this and we are such a strong class. We are the class of 2013 and we are all really proud of that," said Kelly.

As the calendar pages continue to turn and the healing within the community goes on, one thing is certain: Chris and Deanna's memory is something that will never be forgotten.

The man responsible for the crash, Dennis Drue, has pleaded guilty to 58 counts, including vehicular homicide. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday and faces five to 15 years in prison.

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