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Remembering Kirsten with flowers, balloons and white bike

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Posted: Thursday, August 5, 2010 4:08 am | Updated: 12:57 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

A spot next to  where Kirsten Shaye Tompkins died last week has been turned into a roadside memorial for the 14-year-old Fairbanksan.

The most noticeable feature is a bicycle painted white. Starting in 2003 in St. Louis, a tradition has developed around the world in which people have placed “ghost bikes” at places where bicyclists have died. The bikes are usually locked to a light pole on the side of the road as a reminder of what happened. 

A website about the practice states there are more than 100 of them around the world.

The white bike is at the intersection of the Johansen Expressway and the Steese Highway. Kirsten, a student at Tanana Middle School, was struck and killed at the intersection July 28.

There also are bright balloons, flowers, two crosses, several stuffed animals, photos and messages in her honor. A drawing of a school bus says “Text us when you want” and “You will always have a place on your bus Shay-Shay.”

A funeral mass for Kirsten took place Wednesday afternoon at St. Raphael’s Catholic Church, with the Rev. Pat Berquist officiating. Every seat was filled and then some. The crowd overflowed into the social hall, where a camera was set up.

The child was buried on Birch Hill.


CROSSING TO ASIA: The “Maurice Lacroix Bering Strait Expedition” is in Nome, with plans to attempt the first trip to Russia by kiteboard.

Maurice Lacroix is a expensive brand of Swiss watch, introduced in 1975, with prices that could easily surpass what it costs to buy a new economy car with a digital clock.

A kiteboard is similar to a surf board, but it is propelled by a kite. The kiteboarder wears a harness and steers the kite and the board. With good winds, the crossing is expected to take six to eight hours, they say. The theme of the campaign is “Follow Your Convictions.”

The kiteboarders are Geza Scholtz, a 28-year-old Swiss dentist and outdoorsman, and Troy Henkels, who grew up in Iowa and now lives in Eagle River.

Henkels  tried to walk across the Bering Strait to Russia in the winter of 2005 and three years later, “he was the first person to kiteboard in the Antarctic and kiteboard Alaska’s infamous bore wave on Turnagain Arm,” the company says.

Both are said to be “extreme athletes.” The plan, according to Henkels’ website, is to get all of their equipment to Wales by Saturday and wait for good weather to attempt the crossing, backed up by a support crew in a Zodiac.

They will be wearing dry suits, helmets, life jackets, etc. They also will have such things as tubes to drink from and containers of goo and Power Bars to eat as they sail along, GPS monitors and, last but not least, Maurice Lacroix watches to keep track of the time.

In a blog entry Wednesday that was probably not written by someone from Iowa, it states: “Today we arrived in Nome. Most of the people here seem very friendly, but some of them look like very curious natures. Sometimes I have the feeling I’m part of a western movie. Or have you ever seen a reindeer before that believes he’s a dog? Crazy!”


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