Community mourns the loss of siblings after fatal car crash in Petersburg killed 4

$172K has been raised in their name
File image of Petersburg, Alaska in 2019
File image of Petersburg, Alaska in 2019(Sean Maguire/KTUU)
Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 6:38 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Southeast Alaska communities are mourning the loss of two Wrangell High School graduates after a car accident resulted in the death of four people.

Alaska State Troopers say they had received a request for a welfare check on four individuals who had last been reported driving on the Mitkof Highway in Petersburg at the end of July.

After investigating, Troopers found that the vehicle had gone off the road, hit multiple trees and ultimately killed 29-year-old Ian Martin, 21-year-old Siguard Decker, 19-year-old Helen Decker and 37-year-old Dennis Lord.

Siguard or “Sig” and his sister Helen were in Petersburg fishing to raise money for college. In response to their deaths, a GoFundMe page has raised close to $200,000 to pay for their memorial service, help fund the Wrangell Mariner’s Memorial and fund scholarships in their name.

The fundraiser was organized by the United Fishermen of Alaska with all funds going to the Decker family, executive director of UFA, Frances Leach, said.

“Helen and Sig had touched so many people’s lives and people were just devastated and wanted to do whatever they could to help the family out at this time,” Leach said.

Sig and Helen had been deckhands on several boats, the parents Gig and Julie Decker are longtime members of UFA and they are prominent advocates for commercial fishermen in the state.

In less than 24 hours, the GoFundMe had raised enough to support the initial fundraising goal. Money donated in addition was dedicated to the completion of the Mariner’s Memorial in Wrangell. Sig and Helen’s names will be the first ones inscribed on the memorial, Leach said.

“Those kids grew up in Wrangell. The community helped raise those kids, they were hugely active in sports and very well known throughout Southeast Alaska for their sports,” Leach said. “Kids from everywhere knew them.”

After their death, young adults from around Southeast Alaska posted testaments remembering Sig and Helen from Sitka and Wrangell to Ketchikan and Petersburg. The GoFundMe page was also widely shared and has received donations from over 1,000 individuals and organizations.

“I know that Alaskans are extremely generous people, but this is far-reaching outside of Alaska so I think what did surprise me was how far-reaching this has been,” Leach said.

People from around the country had left messages of support for Gig and Julie, including one of Sig’s professors at the University of Southern California.

“Sig made an impression on everyone he met: he lit up the room and he brightened my classroom as well, even after we had to go to Zoom classes because of COVID,” Susan Harmeling wrote on the page.

Another donor, identified as Tiffany Le, said Helen was “one of the most remarkable human beings I have had the chance to cross paths with.”

“She showered the world with an endless amount of love, joy and positivity and always reminded me of the good things in life,” Le wrote.

Because of COVID, a memorial service for Sig and Helen was streamed online for those who couldn’t travel, or felt unsafe traveling, during the pandemic. Leach thinks the outpouring of support for the family may be a result of people wanting to help even from afar.

“With COVID we can’t do that, we can’t travel around as frequently as we’d like,” Leach said. “I think this was one way that people could help grief and go through the process.”

A memorial fund has also been created for Martin, which describes him as a U.S. Navy Veteran who spent the last four summers commercial fishing in Alaska. The page has raised almost $15,000 for his family.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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