Wyoming siblings remember funeral after ‘tragic’ car accident

POWELL, WY – Pastor Timothy Morrow said it was a busy service at New Life Church in Powell on Saturday as friends and family gathered to remember the lives of two siblings teenagers who died in a car accident earlier in the week.

“Let’s not sugarcoat it today. It’s a tragedy in our hearts and in our minds,” Morrow said.

Courtesy of Powell’s New Life Church

Ralston’s siblings, Peiton Hackenberg, 17, and Phoenix Hackenberg, 15, died at the scene of the car crash that occurred Wednesday morning on Highway 14 east of Powell. According to Wyoming Highway Patrol, the road was slick with snow when the Hackenbergs’ vehicle lost control and entered the oncoming lane, colliding with another vehicle.

“I will miss their infectious laughter, incredible love and constant positivity. I will be counting the days until we see each other again,” said Maddi Hackenberg, the teens’ older sister.

At the service, Maddi shared funny videos of her siblings archived over the years on social media. She showed a video where Peiton and Phoenix wanted to box, but only had a pair of gloves. So they put a glove on one hand each and had their match, laughing with every punch, Maddi said.

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Courtesy of Powell’s New Life Church

“It just makes me think of how they had smiles on their faces at all times and had unlimited forgiveness for anyone they came in contact with,” Madison said.

The teenager’s older brother, Reese Hackenberg, has spoken of the family’s resilience through tragedy and how you never know when a loved one may pass away.

“I know for a fact my family, they’re gone and they know I love them unconditionally and I know they love me even more,” Reese said.

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Courtesy of Powell’s New Life Church

The siblings were both enrolled at Lovell High School: Peiton a junior and Phoenix a freshman. Their mother, Brenda, is a teacher at Lovell Middle School.

Lovell Schools Superintendent Doug Hazen said it was difficult to lose two students in the community which has fewer than 400 middle and high school students.

“These two were friends with everyone. Truly valued students, children, and friends. Again, in every kind of relationship you can think of, they were really well-liked and were part of that fabric. school and this community. And the same with Mrs. Hackenberg as a teacher. I think many of our students have had her when they have come through our system and respect and love her. Our hearts break for the family in something like that,” Hazen said.

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MTN News

Lovell Schools Superintendent Doug Hazen speaks with MTN News via video call to remember the Hackenberg siblings on Saturday.

Peiton was captain of the Lovell High School cheerleading team and was a member of the team for three years under coach Lauren Shumway.

“She had the beautiful way of making everyone feel valued and loved and that you were someone important. She loved, smiled and laughed. This girl made us laugh and have fun,” said Shumway said of Peiton.

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MTN News

Lovell High School cheerleading coach Lauren Shumway speaks with MTN News via video call on Saturday to remember team captain Peiton Hackenberg.

The loss of their captain is hard on the seven-member team of four juniors and three freshmen. Shumway recalled how Peiton led the young team to a fourth-place finish at the Wyoming State Spirit Competition in January of this year.

“Her smile was always there. She always made us laugh. Always trying to find the positive in a situation and she had the ability to make each of our daughters, including myself, feel loved and appreciated. We we all knew she was there for us and she knew we were there for her,” Shumway said.

The family asked the team to attend the funeral in uniform to remember their captain.

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Courtesy of Lauren Shumway

Peiton Hackenberg’s Lovell High School cheer squad were invited by the family to wear their uniforms to the funeral service on Saturday.

The crash that killed the two teens also sent two people from Lovell to Powell Valley Healthcare for injuries sustained in the crash: Brittney Baldridge, 31, and Elliot Wittick, 32, according to Wyoming Highway Patrol. They were in the second vehicle. The accident is still under investigation.

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Courtesy of the Hackenberg family

Peiton Hackenberg, 17, was remembered at a funeral service at New Life Church in Powell.
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Courtesy of the Hackenberg family

(left) Phoenix Hackenberg, 15, was memorialized at a funeral service at New Life Church in Powell.

The funeral service was streamed live on New Life Church’s YouTube channel. Click here to see it in its entirety.

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