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School memorial held for 2 teens killed in crash

Posted at 6:09 PM, May 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-19 21:09:34-04
Other than the sound of a single trumpet playing, the Cienega High School courtyard was completely still. Even with thousands of students gathered. 
 
"It's been quiet," said Marian Smith, a teacher at Cienega who had one of the victims, Madisyn Bertsch, in her AP U.S. History class. 
 
Smith says Bertsch was a smart, clever and incredibly kind girl. And this week has been difficult at the school as both Bertsch and Travis Childress were very loved.      
 
"Students have been supportive," said Smith. "One of my students knew that I had Madisyn and I started crying and she just gave me a big hug. So we're definitely taking care of each other." 
 
Bertsch and Childress were both killed over the weekend in a three-car accident on Golf Links Road. According to Tucson Police, 18-year-old Childress was driving a 2012 Jeep Compass, with Bertsch as his passenger, on the eastbound side of the street. He drifted through a break in the median into oncoming westbound traffic. 
 
The Jeep hit a Ford truck causing it to roll over and hit another vehicle on the westbound side. 
 
At the memorial Thursday, the families of both teens sat together. Bertsch's family in green and Childress' family wearing matching tie-dye shirts. 
 
"Make the best of every second," said Travis Childress' mother Joleen Hegerle to the crowd of students. "Love your families, love your friends, talk to each other hold each other, hug each other." 
 
Madisyn Bertsch's older sister Alexis also addressed the crowd saying it made it her happy to see so many people there and it showed that her sister was loved. 
 
"I know going forward, it's going to be really tough and there's going to be good days and bad days," said Alexis Bertsch. "But on the bad days, I want you to remember the good times you had with her. Remember the funny Snap stories she posted that weekend or her jokes in class. Remember when you used to hang out with her. I know she may be gone but the love she had for each and every one of us will be in our hearts forever." 
 
Alexis Bertsch said her sister Madisyn was looking forward to becoming a high school senior next year and already planning to apply at Northern Arizona University for college. 
 
Travis Childress was a senior, and would have been graduating next week alongside his twin brother Wyatt. 
 
When Travis' mother spoke to the crowd, she mentioned how they just lost Travis and Wyatt's father in January. 
 
"I constantly was asking them and still ask Wyatt, 'are you ok? What's going on? Are you ok?'" said Hegerle. "And he just kept telling me when I would ask how do you do it, you just gotta keep going and every day is a new day." 
 
At the end of the memorial, everyone met in the center of the courtyard and released multi-colored balloons into the air. 
 
Students then had a chance to write messages to Travis and Madisyn on note cards and place them in a box. 
 
Madisyn Bertsch's best friend Kirstien Gilbert shared the story of when she first met Madisyn at the bus stop on the first day of school. She said because Madisyn and her family had just moved to the U.S. from Qatar, Madisyn didn't know that yellow school buses actually existed. 
 
They've been friends ever since. 
 
"If you were ever having a bad day, she was the person to go to," said Gilbert. "If you needed advice, she was the person to go to. She is the least judgmental person I've ever met in my life."
 
Police are still investigating the cause of the accident that killed the teens but say both Travis and Madisyn were wearing seatbelts and speed was not a factor in the crash. 
 
Donation pages have been set up for both families on gofundme. To donate to the Travis Childress fund, click here. For the Madisyn Bertsch fund, click here.