MARQUETTE - As funeral services take place today for an Ishpeming teen who died as the result of an Oct. 5 traffic crash in Middle Inlet, Wis., members of the local community continue to rally around a family still reeling from the tragic loss.
Christopher "Bubba" Croley would have celebrated his 14th birthday Oct. 7, just two days after an alleged drunk driver crashed into the vehicle Croley was a passenger in, according to court documents.
Croley died en route to the hospital early on Oct. 6 from injuries sustained in the crash.
Christopher “Bubba” Croley T-shirts can be ordered from Martin Sports and come in white or blue. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Scott and Sara Martin, owners of Martin Sports Apparel in Ishpeming, are doing their part to help the grieving family, selling specially-designed T-shirts that feature a young man with wings, wearing a number 70 football jersey - Croley's number in the Marquette County Youth Football League. A banner that says "Bubba" is underneath the football player.
"We are a tight knit community, so everybody feels the pain of the family and everybody's looking for a way to contribute and feel as good as you can about a bad situation," Scott Martin said. "This is an outlet for that. This allows everyone to be a part of the healing process and I think it's really important."
The shirts are blue and white, the Hematite colors Croley grew up surrounded by, and are selling for $15, with $10 of each sale donated to the Christopher Croley Memorial Fund set up at the U.P. Catholic Credit Union by friends of the family to help defray funeral costs.
Martin said he posted information about the T-shirts on the store's Facebook page and had sold 200 shirts in just three hours. As of this morning, the store has sold upwards of 500 shirts and is still taking orders.
Many of the shirts were printed and ready to be picked up Thursday so people wishing to pay their respects to Croley and his family could wear them to visitation at the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Ishpeming from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. until noon today.
Ishpeming Middle School eighth-grader Mitchell Uhl, 14, also designed bracelets honoring Croley, who has been his friend since the two were in kindergarten.
The bracelets, which say "My friend, my angel" and "RIP Bubba," will be sold at Fox Negaunee, with a minimum donation of $2. The bracelets are green and white, since Croley was a Michigan State Spartans fan. All proceeds will go to the Croley family.
A monetary collection for the memorial fund will also be held at the Negaunee Middle School's final eighth-grade football game of the season at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Negaunee Football Field.
Students at Ishpeming Middle School are also healing as they remember a friend and a classmate taken from them too soon.
Counselors were made available to students Monday and the Ishpeming School District Board of Education began its Monday night meeting with a moment of silence for Croley.
The Marquette County Youth Football League also retired Croley's jersey Saturday.
The alleged drunk driver in the accident, Timothy C. Christ, 28, of Wausaukee, Wis., has been charged by the Marinette (Wis.) County District Attorney with eight counts in connection with the crash.
Christ appeared in Marinette County Circuit Court via closed circuit television Tuesday, where he was ordered held on a $200,000 bond. He is currently being held in Marinette County Jail.
Christ next will appear in court Nov. 1 for a preliminary examination.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.