Community remembers 18-year-old's love of life

Kathryn Cargo By Kathryn Cargo

April 17, 2017 at 10:51 p.m.
Updated April 17, 2017 at 11 p.m.

Family and friends of Brittany Graham, From left, Brittany Graham's ex-boyfriend, Mark Cochrum;  mother, Connie Graham; sister, Melinda Drastata Russell; and brother in-law, Jason Russell, release balloons in her memory. Graham was driving a 2007 Ford Edge when she was killed after a train crashed into the vehicle Thursday in Blessing.

Family and friends of Brittany Graham, From left, Brittany Graham's ex-boyfriend, Mark Cochrum; mother, Connie Graham; sister, Melinda Drastata Russell; and brother in-law, Jason Russell, release balloons in her memory. Graham was driving a 2007 Ford Edge when she was killed after a train crashed into the vehicle Thursday in Blessing.    Ana Ramirez for The Victoria Advocate

EL CAMPO - Sitting in the stands at Ricebird Stadium, hundreds of people watched colored balloons ride the wind into the sky as they reminisced on the life of Brittany Graham.

"This means a lot," said Brittany Graham's father, Jim Graham, 49, of Louise. "I don't even know how to express it."

The 18-year-old El Campo High School senior was killed in a car-train crash Thursday afternoon in Blessing.

Graham was remembered as someone who left behind a trail of happiness, brightening the lives of those who came in contact with her, he said.

Cheyenne Morton, 23, of El Campo, and Kylie Wishert, 19, of Nada, organized the vigil and balloon release to help the community cope with Graham's death, Morton said.

Graham meant a lot to many people and touched their lives, she said.

Wishert released a princess balloon because Graham thought of herself as a princess.

"It brings us all together," Wishert said. "Everybody needs someone to mourn with. This town is really good about coming together for those things. It makes us remember the beautiful life that she had."

Morton said Graham was there with them, and she brought the rain that fell Monday.

"She was always a country girl, loved being in the mud, fishing, hunting - anything that included getting dirty, it was her," she said.

Jerrell Barron, pastor of United Praise and Worship Church in El Campo, opened the vigil. Barron was also Graham's junior high principal for one year.

"To all of you, her classmates, my job is to tell you this: Cherish every single moment that you have," he said to the crowd. "I guarantee you when she woke up that morning, she didn't realize that was going to be her last day here . We have to take every single moment that we have here on this earth, and we have to do the best possible job we can to live a full life."

Country songs "See You When I See You," "Texas Angel" and "My Little Girl" were played at the vigil. Graham's father requested "My Little Girl."

"She's my little girl," he said. "From birth till death, she was my baby."

When Graham was growing up, her father took her everywhere with him, he said. To this day, he still feels like she's with him everywhere he goes.

"I love my baby girl," he said.

Graham's country roots go back to the time she spent with her father as a little girl. He taught her how to hunt, fish and even drive an 18-wheeler.

"You'd see me, she'd be there, right there behind me," he said.

Graham's boyfriend, Alphonse Revis, 20, of Blessing, was in the car with Graham when the train crashed into the vehicle. He was flown to the Memorial Hermann Hospital-Texas Medical Center and was still there Monday night, said his brother, Alan Revis, 28, of Blessing. Alphonse Revis was in stable condition and was slowly getting better, his brother said. The wreck left him with a broken arm, a collapsed lung and head trauma.

"He's progressing a lot faster than the doctors thought he would be," Alan Revis said. "I trust those doctors, and they're in control of the entire situation. I feel confident saying that he's stable in their care."

Alan Revis came to the vigil because his brother couldn't be there, he said.

"If he could be here, he definitely would be," he said.

Graham and Alphonse Revis were together about six months and had a great relationship, Alan Revis said.

"They were like glue," he said. "You couldn't separate them. If you find one, you find both."

The outpouring of love and support from the community has helped the family tremendously, said Graham's sister, Melinda Drastata Russell, 31, of Buda.

A visitation for Graham will be from 2 to 5:30 p.m. and a memorial service will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Wheeler Funeral Home, 612 W. Jackson St.


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