Friends reflect after Oneida County man dies in crash
MINOCQUA (WAOW) -
A small central Wisconsin community is rallying together in the wake of tragedy. Friends and family in Minocqua are remembering 22-year-old Jeremy Ritchie.
When you say the name Jeremy Ritchie around Minocqua you'll get so many stories.
"Him and his family came in for fish fry and he pushed me to eat all of his food," remembered Audrianna Nelson.
Say the name, and you'll be flooded with so many memories and tales of good times you'll feel like you know him, even if you never met him.
"The last time I saw Jeremy he just sat and talked to me about how great having kids was," said long-time friend Brittney Woebbeking. "They're not the type of people you forget."
"He was the kind of person who would be friendly to everybody," added Rachel Avelallemant.
Ritchie died Tuesday after his propane truck was struck by another car. Two other women, Justine Ringberg, 22 of Bayfield and Raquel Nunez, 22 of New York also died. Authorities say wintry roads were to blame. But his closest friends say they don't want him to be remembered for that.
Instead,"his sense of humor, his smile and his laugh," said Avelallemant.
"He had a contagious laugh," Woebbeking said with a smile.
Ritchie leaves behind his wife, Jamie, and two-year-old daughter Jayden.
"She's the light of Jamie and Jeremy's eye for sure," said family friend Julia Miller. "This whole town, really."
Now, days after the crash, this group is using that as inspiration. They're selling bracelets and stickers in memory of Ritchie.
"All the proceeds will go to Jayden's memorial fund," said Miller."Everybody loves her so it's important that we all do something for her."
They say it's a small step. But in this small community it's a way to cope.
"People can't imagine their lives without him and because of that everyone is bonding together," said Miller.
So, if you ask anyone, they'll tell you Ritchie's life was cut too short. But the ones closest to him know he's not too far away.
"If anyone ever wants to see Jeremy just look straight into Jayden's eyes and you will," said Nelson.
She was after all, always the light of his.
Friends say Ritchie's brother, Matt, is racing this weekend in the Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby. He'll be racing for Jeremy.