CRESWELL — In a gym lined with purple balloons, a grief-stricken community gathered on Saturday to celebrate the life of Breanna Dapron, a 2021 Creswell High School alumna who was fatally shot at a house in Eugene on Jan. 19. She succumbed to her injuries on Jan. 23, two days after her 20th birthday.
Setting the tone immediately, brother Wes Violette told the crowd of over 200 that, “This is a party; this isn’t a goodbye,” as he queued up Brea’s favorite songs like “Black Balloon” by the Goo Goo Dolls and “Baby” by Justin Beiber, eliciting energy and soft smiles in the somber crowd.
A two-sport star, in volleyball and basketball, coaches, friends, and family took turns at the microphone, sharing stories of bright moments with Brea — friends like Janessa Mallory, volleyball teammate and friend.
“Whenever you needed her, she was there,” Mallory said — a common narrative of Brea’s character heard throughout the afternoon, one that will live in perpetuity as one of Brea’s legacies.
“I was bullied a lot, an outcast, but Brea made me feel accepted,” friend Calen said. “She was sweet, caring, and looked out for everyone she knew.”
“She was my first friend when I transferred to Creslane Elementary,” friend Kyleigh said. “She was the only person to reach out to me to make sure I had a friend.”
Kyleigh recalled some sillier stories, too, like when the girls pierced their own belly buttons during a sleepover. “I passed out,” she said, spurring laughter from the crowd. “I’ll love that scar now; something to remember her by,” she said.
Friends, family, and school staff recalled other stories of sugar cookies, long car rides to the beach, dance parties, and Brea’s stellar athletic skills.
Addie Violette, Brea’s niece, created a video/image montage that captured Brea’s vibrant spirit, contagious laugh and silly disposition: Home videos of baby Brea bouncing around in the kitchen in her diaper; videos taken from the dashboard of Brea and her friends singing in the car; Breanna making goofy faces and palling around with family; capped off with a personal video message from one of her favorite music artists, country star Luke Bryan, who offered condolences to Brea’s family. Bryan also donated $2,500 to Brea’s GoFundMe account to assist with funeral expenses.
Always a team player who was everybody’s friend, it makes perfect sense that Breanna made her most important assist as she was on her way out of this world.
As an organ donor, Dapron gave the recipients of her organs a new lease on life.
As a result, Brea’s large circle of family and friends gathered at RiverBend hospital on Jan. 21 – her 20th birthday – to hold a dedication and raise the donor flag outside. The Honor Walk – which is becoming a customary tradition at hospitals across the country for organ donors – was performed at midnight on Jan. 23, after her passing.
“We had a nice get-together,” Creswell volleyball coach Anna Baltrusch said in another interview. “Brea has a huge family and so many friends, we had to go outside. Then we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her. It was nice to see how many people showed up to pay tribute to her.”
Three arrests have been made for the death of Breanna and Dylan Wayne George, 31, who was also murdered in the incident.
Two 24-year-old Eugene residents, Vaughn Pierre Derry Jr. and Dejuan Debrail Stevens, were charged with two counts of First Degree Murder and one count of First Degree Robbery. Mridul Raghav, 21, of Eugene was charged with two counts of Second Degree Murder and a count of First Degree Robbery.
“I want to thank emergency doctors, and the law enforcement and detectives for helping to bring Breanna to justice. Her families are in a nightmare and have more questions than answers,” Danny Dawson said at the ceremony. “This is an utterly senseless, heartbreaking loss, and a time of dark frustration and anger. We draw strength from you (her families). Take the love you see here and know it is always with you.”
Brea’s mom, Brenda Dapron, through all the heartbreak, held back tears and tried to absorb the impact her child has made on the world.
“My daughter lived more in 20 years than most people do in their whole lives,” she said, smiling through the tears. “This isn’t goodbye; this is ‘I’ll see you soon.’”
EPD believes this was a targeted incident and that investigation is ongoing, and asks that anyone with information about this case to contact the tip line at 541-682-5162.
Ron Hartman contributed to this report.