BELFAST (NEWS CENTER Maine) — A few raindrops started coming down on the gazebo at Steamboat Landing on the Belfast waterfront Saturday evening, as a community gathered to remember and honor the life of one of their rising stars.
Laila Al-Matrouk, 16, died Tuesday after succumbing to injuries she suffered in a crash involving a vehicle while riding her bicycle Sunday.
According to Belfast Police, Al- Matrouk was traveling on Route 1 when she was struck by a vehicle traveling northbound. She was taken by Life Flight to Eastern Maine Medical Center, where she passed away.
Al-Matrouk’s friends are choosing to honor and celebrate her life, rather than dwell on her passing.
Two vigils, Friday and Saturday evening, were open to the public.
“All of these vigils and stuff are about all of us being there for each other because it’s easier to cope and to deal with something like this when you’re around friends and around people who are feeling the same thing that you are so that’s what I think these are all about,” said Caleb Hall-Arnett, who says he knew Al-Matrouk for nearly four years, and was friendly with her from school.
More than 100 people attended Saturday’s vigil which was organized in part by Al-Matrouk’s former school principal.
Al-Matrouk would have started her junior year of high school in just a few weeks. She was originally from Kuwait.
Her friends tell NEWS CENTER Maine they were sad a few years ago, when Al-Matrouk returned to her home country for a few months. She eventually moved back to Belfast.
Her friends at school say her death is not just a loss for them, but for everyone who had the chance to meet her.
“It’s not just like a personal loss for me,” said Sydni Moores, a Belfast junior in Al-Matrouk’s class. “It’s like everybody was affected by her because she was an advocate and she donated so much of her time. She was a volunteer and she stood up for anyone and everyone who needed her, so it’s anyone who was affected by Laila that has been affected by losing her.”
Al-Matrouk’s friends say they are still working on finding ways to honor her in the future, but they have already planned to retire her soccer jersey this fall.