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The Globe and Mail

Family, friends remember victims of Alberta roadside shootings

Prairie Baseball Academy head coach Todd Hubka wipes away a tear as he speaks at a memorial for Tabitha Stepple, Mitch McLean and Tanner Craswell, in Lethbridge, Alta., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012.


The lone survivor of a horrific triple murder-suicide in southern Alberta sat quietly through an emotional final goodbye at a memorial Saturday.

Shayna Conway was helped into the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge by her father, Scott, making the three-hour drive from a Calgary hospital where she is still recovering from her bullet wounds.

Ms. Conway didn't speak at the service but recorded a brief video message that was played toward the end of the service.

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"I'm so grateful for all the love and support my family and I have received from so many people," she said slowly.

"I'm looking forward to being at home as soon as I can. I'm so happy you could be here with us to celebrate the lives of these three wonderful people."

More than 1,500 friends, family and supporters took in the 90-minute service, held nearly a month to the day after the attack.

Tabitha Stepple, Tanner Craswell and Mitch MacLean – all in their early 20s – were gunned down by Ms. Stepple's jealous ex-boyfriend, Derek Jensen, on a dark highway Dec. 15. Mr. Jensen then killed himself.

Mr. Craswell and Mr. MacLean were promising baseball players from Prince Edward Island and had been training with the Lethbridge Bulls.

Mr. Craswell and Mr. MacLean were on their way to the Calgary airport to fly home for Christmas when the shootings occurred.

"My family and I extend our deepest sympathies to Tanner, Mitch and Tabitha's families," Ms. Conway said in her recorded statement.

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The service was structured like a baseball game, with special tributes to the victims during each of nine "innings."

The lights flicked on briefly at the end of each inning.

"I just want you to know that one of the qualities that my son had was his ability to appreciate things," Keith Craswell told the memorial about his son.

"I do know this for a fact he appreciated everything."

"Tanner Craswell and Mitch MacLean have been called up to the true major leagues and will continue to turn magnificent double plays in a much better place as true angels in the infield," said Scott Reiling, who served as Mr. Craswell's first billet.

Teammates and coaches fought back tears as they shared their own experiences with the two young men.

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"We were truly blessed to have these two young men in our lives, said Mike Coe, the Bulls' assistant general manager.

"Shayna. You know how much you mean to my family. We love you and will continue to pray for your recovery."

The memorial included the retirement of Mr. MacLean's No. 6 and Mr. Craswell's No. 13 Bulls jerseys. They were raised to the Tina Turner song Simply the Best.

Red and white wristbands, inscribed with "R.I.P. TC and MM" and "Angels in the Infield Never Forgotten" were sold, with the money going to a legacy scholarship for future baseball players.

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