Allen church community rallying around surviving family of three killed in wreck

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by MARIE SAAVEDRA

Bio | Email | Follow: @MSaavedraTV

WFAA

Posted on November 29, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 29 at 8:04 PM

ALLEN -- The members of the Stryker family no longer here on earth are with their church in spirit.

Bonnie Koliba said the family were active members of SunCreek United Methodist. The community feels heavy with grief.

“First, there was disbelief, and then there was anger. With social media, everything is just so quick now,” Koliba said.

So through Facebook and other channels, the church spread the word that its doors were open Friday afternoon.

“I think it's just a nice place to come and contemplate and pray, and know that you're not alone,” she said.

Many here are searching for strength.

Losing the family's dad, James Stryker, mom, Rebecca Stryker, and son, Travis Stryker, in one crash is a blow hard to comprehend. The three were killed instantly in a crash in northern Arizona, on the way to Las Vegas for a hockey tournament.

Another son, Austin Stryker, was with them but survived. Many struggle to think how he and sister Stephanie will have to go on without the rest of their family.

“Austin said it happened really fast, they were all laughing right before it happened... It was just a blur,” said Parker Saxon, who has been texting with Austin as he recovers from a fractured back in Flagstaff, Arizona.

“His mother always made me feel so welcome and his dad was so kind. They just did everything they could to make you feel really special and welcome,” said Rachel McCullaugh, another family friend.

Now, the SunCreek community wants to do the same for the surviving Strykers. They're writing letters -- notes of encouragement and words meant to welcome them back home when the time comes.

“People always want to know what to do, and so sometimes, writing something down is a way to express your thoughts without allowing it to become a huge obstacle for you,” Koliba said.

Many are using it to promise on paper their support and love in the years to come.

“That's something that we all need to be aware of with Austin and Stephanie - that not just now we're there for them, but six months from now, a year from now. We just want to be their safety net.”

Some of the boy's friends at Allen High School will be gathering Saturday morning in a show of support. The teens also played for the Dallas Junior Hockey Association, which started a fund for the surviving siblings which can be found at this link.

E-mail msaavedra@wfaa.com

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