Memorial held in Roy for young adults killed by teen driver who now faces murder charges

Posted at 9:39 PM, Jul 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-01 23:57:05-04

ROY, Utah -- Loved ones shared memories at a balloon release Friday night as they remembered the two victims who died in a tragic Roy crash earlier this week.

“They're watching, and they're knowing how they were loved, [we're] sending our loving thoughts to them,” said Liz Wilder, Tyler Christianson's aunt.

Hundreds of colorful balloons filled the sky over Roy, while below, friends, family and loved ones watched them drift away.

“I hope he just got all the love and support that we sent him, and that all the notes make it to him and all,” said Courtney Shantz, Tyler’s girlfriend.

On the balloons were messages of love for 19-year-old Tyler Christianson and 20-year-old Madi Haan.

“Madi and I were especially close, I loved her,” said Juli Moran, a family friend and coworker of both victims.

The gathering was held hours after charging documents shined new light on the tragic crash that took the two young lives Thursday. Police say the crash was not an accident.

“I think it's the saddest tragedy that two beautiful human beings would die for somebody who was being so selfish,” Moran said.

According to the documents, 16-year-old Marilee Gardner stole her mom’s car. Then, when an officer tried to pull her over, she took off with speeds reaching nearly 100 miles per hour. Police say Gardner then aimed for and crashed into the car Madi and Tyler were in, killing them both.

Once arrested, Gardner allegedly told officers she was going to pick up a friend, buy drugs and then they were going to commit suicide. But because Clinton Police interrupted the plan, she rammed into the victim's car on purpose in an effort to end her life. Friday, a judge determined Gardner will be charged with murder as an adult.

“It doesn’t make it easier, you always hope it was an accident and that there wasn't any intention behind it, but it, there was, and it makes it harder," Shantz said. "The anger has somewhere to be directed, and you know you shouldn't feel that way, but you do."

The victim's loved ones say there is still a long road ahead, but they say being surrounded by family and friends brings them peace during the pain.

“It's overwhelming, just amazing, wonderful, so grateful,” Wilder said.

Fundraising pages have been set up for both Tyler and Madi to help with funeral expenses.