What’s happening: Mourning student’s death is ‘not a one-day thing’ | Lewiston Middle School student killed on Main Street

LEWISTON — Hundreds of people filled the sidewalk in front of Lewiston Middle School on Thursday night for 13 minutes of silence in honor of Jayden Cho-Sargent.

Attendees cupped their hands to protect flickering candles in the drizzle. 

His family rang a bell to mark the end of each minute — each minute representing a year of his life — with his mom ringing last, loudest and longest, before blowing her candle out. 

The family didn’t address the crowd but wanted to convey one message, according to the principal: Watch where you’re going.

Cho-Sargent was killed Thursday morning on the way to school when he was struck by a truck in the Main Street crosswalk at Frye Street. 

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Organizers for the quickly planned vigil handed out candles and blue ribbons at 7 p.m. as people filled the middle school auditorium. There were a lot of young faces, as well as many parents, grandparents and strangers.

“For me, it was a matter of supporting the school and supporting the mom — I can’t imagine what she’s going through,” said Mary Pendexter of Lewiston, there with her seventh- and fourth-grade sons.

Marveling at the size of the crowd, Pendexter told her youngest son, “It’s been on the news all day. Everyone with a heart is here.”

Principal Jake Langlois thanked everyone for coming on what had been a trying day. There were 10 counselors in the audience, he said. The school was visibly shaken.

“I would like to note members of family who were directly involved in Jayden’s years with us — Matt, Kelly and Chris — who have made their way to what I think is a very challenging evening tonight because they believe in community, because they believe in what their child represents,” Langlois said. “(Jayden) was always smiling.

“He was a good boy, doing things he was supposed to do,” he said, before choking up.

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Langlois announced that Jayden’s four brothers, Landon, Dylan, Devon and Brandon, would ring the bell in his honor once the crowd regrouped outside. 

“I would like to share a special message from the family: See the crosswalks. Take the time,” Langlois said.  “As we drive the roads, we need to be thoughtful. And students, those of you in the crowd, be mindful of where you’re crossing. Be mindful of where you are on the sidewalks. We don’t want to have this conversation — another tragedy — again.”

In the hallway outside the auditorium, students covered a table with messages to Cho-Sargent: 

“Fly high, Jayden”

“Love you, Uncle Albert, Aunt Betty”

“Gone too soon, a great kid”

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Muriel Hawkins said she had lived next door to the family in Biddeford for six years. She had moved to Lewiston three years ago. Cho-Sargent’s family moved two years ago.

“I cried (when she heard the news), and then I cried again when I saw her sister was putting up the memorial with the teddy bear when I drove by,” Hawkins said. “He was special; he was a great kid. He was outgoing. He and my son used to play guns in the yard, like kids.”

Trekk Skeate, a seventh-grader at the school, passed out tissues to the crowd. His friend had been friends with Jayden and he’d come out to be supportive of her.

“My job is, on a scale of 1 to 10, to make sure everybody’s happy level is at least a 5,” he said. “I don’t usually pass out tissues; I usually pass out hugs.” 

Heidi Sawyer, the founder of Lewiston Rocks, helped organize the vigil and decided Thursday to also set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses and counseling which will be accessible via the Cho-Sargent memorial Facebook page.

At the end of the night, after spending time with the family and helping them with the countdown and the bell ringing, Sawyer said she hadn’t gotten the mother’s name — but it didn’t matter.

“You see the news break and you just think, as a mom and as a community, you’ve got to do something,” she said.

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