At family’s request, teen turns generosity to slide victims

ARLINGTON — Mariah Fahrney wanted to do something for the family of a close friend who died in a car accident.

“I felt that the best way to remember her was through her favorite sport,” Fahrney said.

Her friend, Nicole Wiebe, 18, of Stanwood, died in a Feb. 16 accident when the car in which she was a passenger left 240th Street NE and rolled over.

The driver and another passenger sustained minor injuries.

Wiebe was a soccer player. Fahrney, 18, a student at Arlington High School, both plays soccer and coaches a local Special Olympics soccer team, so she organized a soccer tournament in Wiebe’s memory, taking up collections to help Wiebe’s family defray funeral costs. She raised $775.

Then a wall of mud came down and destroyed an Oso neighborhood.

Wiebe’s family suggested that, instead of giving them the money, that she instead give it to someone affected by the mudslide.

Fahrney’s father contacted the office of Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert, who put the Fahrneys in touch with the people running the emergency shelter in Arlington.

“I thought it was a beautiful gesture of people in grief, and what this community is about,” Tolbert said.

On Friday afternoon in the Smokey Point Community Church, Fahrney handed a cashier’s check over to the Spillers family.

“They (the Wiebes) may be mourning the loss of a child, but they weren’t mourning the loss of multiple children and a home,” Fahrney said.

Three of the six family members, father Billy Spillers, 30, stepson Jovon Mangual, 13, and daughter Kaylee Spillers, 5, are confirmed dead. Daughter Brooke, 2, is still listed among the missing.

Billy Spillers’ wife, Jonielle Spillers, was away from the house at the time of the slide. Son Jacob, 4, was rescued from the debris by helicopter.

Also at the meeting with Jonielle Spillers were Nicole Wiebe’s family and a Navy chaplain. Billy Spillers was enlisted in the Navy and served aboard the USS Momsen, which is based in Everett.

Fahrney said it was an emotional encounter with two sets of parents who had lost children.

“It just felt good to be helping the people of Oso and spreading around what Nicole would want,” she said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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