Balloons, tears and calls for justice at Mishawaka vigil for 2 teens killed in crash | Local

MISHAWAKA — Megan McClish remembered her brother, Clayton, as a sweet young man with a sense of humor who loved to fish.

She stood in the midst of friends and family who came to an evening vigil Wednesday to honor the memories of Clayton, 19, and his girlfriend, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Johnson-Neher, 18. The couple died in a hit-and-run crash that occurred during a police pursuit last week in Mishawaka.

Megan was joined by her cousin, Tabitha Stackman, and sister-in-law Alissa Wallace. Each held candles near a memorial that has a photo of Clayton and Elizabeth, flowers and a motorcycle, which was one of Elizabeth’s loves.

The memorial stands near the intersection of Spring and 13th streets, where the crash occurred.

Nick Jones said he had known Elizabeth since she was a child.

“She used to work at the McDonald’s by Meijer, so I got to see her and talk to her a lot,” Jones, who is a family friend, said. “She was a girl who didn’t know trouble.

“She was not the kind who hung around bad types.”

And in the midst of the tears, balloons that were released and the recollections from friends, those who attended restated the calls for justice that they expressed the day after the teens’ deaths.

“I just want the justice system to do what is right,” Stackman said. “Their lives were taken for no reason. He (Clayton) was just headed home.”

Wallace made a plea for empathy.

“I want people to think that if it was them in our shoes, they would want the same justice that we want,” she said.

Shane Neher, Elizabeth’s dad, echoed those statements of gratitude for the community support and the calls for justice that he made to the crowd.

“This is tragedy,” he said. “These two kids are dead for no reason.”

Neher said the next steps for the families will be to hold funerals and burials and then turn their attention to finding those involved in the crash. Neher also expressed deep appreciation for the outpouring of love and support.

“This turnout I love and I salute each and every one of you,” he said. “My daughter would love this.”

According to a release from the St. Joseph County Fatal Crash Team, the incident began with a police call around 8 p.m. Dec. 2. Mishawaka officers were dispatched to a home in the 500 block of East 12th Street for reports of a door being kicked in.

The officers began to chase a male on foot near the scene; the suspect got into the back of a silver Pontiac Grand Prix and it drove away.

Officers pursued the Pontiac for “less than a minute” when it struck McClish’s car, which was heading south on Spring Street, according to the release.

Two males in the Pontiac ran away after the crash, while a female passenger remained at the scene and cooperated with police. The driver of the Pontiac had not been publicly identified.

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