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Slain Okanagan teen's friends and family celebrate life

Loved ones of slain teen Ashlee Hyatt lined Peachland's waterfront walkway Thursday night, to celebrate the life taken from them one year ago.

"This is something she would love," said Samantha Waller, a friend of Ashlee's who was among the hundreds waiting by the docks until nearly 11 p.m. for a brief fireworks display to shoot into the sky as homage to 16-year-old who was murdered at a nearby house party, June 2, 2010.

Ashlee, Waller explained, was known by many as "the girl with the crazy smile," who would dance in the middle of the school hallway, just because.

"It's nice people still feel so strongly, but it's no surprise so many people are here," she added, offering up "it's for Ashlee" as the brief, and simple, way to explain everyone knew, and liked the young woman.

"No matter what she did, she had a good time and made everything better," added, Erika Nairismagi.

While Ashlee's friends admitted it was nice, if not unexpected, to see such a big showing on Peachland's waterfront for the anniversary, it didn't do much to dull the pain  of the loss they experienced last year when they heard their friend had died.

Ashlee was with dozens of other teens at a Peachland address last year, when a fight broke out and she was fatally stabbed. A 16-year-old girl is now facing a charge of second degree murder, along with charges of assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.

"It still feels like it was yesterday, but I still can't believe it happened," said Ashley Burke, a friend who Ashlee was always with. Together they were called "Ashley Squared" joked another in the close-knit group of friends, who say they've just become tighter since the fight where Ashlee lost her life last year.

And their bond extends past their peer group.  When the fireworks sputtered to a finish, the six of them huddled in a group hug with Ashlee's mother Charrie, laughing and crying like a family.

It marked the end of a whirlwind day for Charrie, who spent much of the afternoon preparing for the night's event, co-ordinating people who would wanted to help, or attend. And, at the end when a heavy gusts of wind threatened to put a kibosh on all that planning, she even got a sign from her daughter.

"She stopped the wind," said Charrie, between a stream of hugs from people who recognized her and wanted to extend their condolences. "She'd be so happy with this."

The teen charged with second degree murder is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in October.

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