Candlelight vigil held for Pittsfield crash victims

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PITTSFIELD -- Friends and family of two men killed in a car crash outside Pittsfield High School touted remembrance, love and peace at a vigil Friday.

Ernest Duck Jr., 37, and Tariq Salley, 34, both of Pittsfield, died Tuesday after a high-speed wreck on East Street.

Duck, the operator of the 2013 Nissan Altima, allegedly sped through the East Street intersection and the car hopped a curb, flipped, struck a tree and then went airborne before slamming into a wall on school property.

Approximately 100 people turned out to pay the two New York natives respect in Pittsfield's Park Square.

"[Duck] was Mighty Duck to me and [Salley] was Taj Mahal," said Margie LaRoche, a longtime friend of the pair. "It's not a tragedy, because they're going home."

Friends shared memories, took photographs, comforted one another and poured liquor from a bottle into the park's fountain and spoke in memory of Duck and Salley.

"I lost two very important people in my life and I know y'all feel the same," said a man who identified himself as Chase. "Everybody out here has fond memories and we all appreciate the love and support."

Beverly Jones-Yahia, an aunt of Salley's, came with a message.

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"Let the community here know: don't judge," she said. "Show peace, show harmony, not hatred. Let them live on as the people that they were, not some kind of villains."

Others shed light on each fallen man's character. Both were said to love children and frequently engage area youth in games and sports.

Duck was classified as "sensitive," "warm" and -- as he himself apparently proclaimed -- "electrifying." Salley was portrayed as soft-spoken and low-key.

Jones-Yahia said the pair "were lifelong friends." They grew up together and were reunited two-and-a-half months ago when Salley returned from New York to the Berkshires.

Our Fathers House of Restoration Pastor Sharon Johnson led the vigil.

"The grief that we're feeling right now is based upon the love that we had," she said. "We're all here for that one word: love. Hold on to the memories, hold on to the great times. Let's be a movement in the city exemplifying that we love each other."

Funeral services have been scheduled for each man. Duck's will occur in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Salley's in Colonie, N.Y. On Tuesday, a service at Our Fathers House of the Restoration will be dedicated to them.

Pittsfield Police Department continues an investigation of the accident and has yet to release further information.

To reach Phil Demers:
or (413) 281-2859.
On Twitter: @BE_PhilD


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