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Tragedy spawns outpouring of love

News editor

No one was more shocked and saddened by Alycia Decker’s tragic death in a recent car accident than her mother-in-law, Laurie Jones. However, after an overwhelming outpouring of community support, no one is more thankful to be living in Peabody.

“It’s made it as easy as it could possibly get,” Jones said. “Anyplace else, it wouldn’t be the same.”

Jones and her husband, Don, moved to Peabody 11 years ago. She had a sister and friends here, and Jones said they were looking for place that would be better for her son, Justin Decker. He moved in with them shortly thereafter, and his girlfriend, Alycia Banks, came with him.

“We told them they had to get jobs and look for a place to live, and we gave them three months to do it,” she said. “They did it in about three weeks.”

Justin and Alycia were married at Peabody Methodist Church, and they eventually settled into a home on N. Maple St., where they were raising their two children, Leah and Wyatt.

The evening of Feb. 23. Justin, Leah, and Wyatt were at the Jones house. They were expecting Alycia, who had gone to Newton, to join them at some point.

She didn’t. The family started to worry.

“She never called to say good night to the kids,” Jones said.

The next morning, a Friday, Alycia didn’t answer her phone. They checked the Maple St. home and the school, where Alycia was the food service director, and then they contacted authorities. Justin took off for Newton.

“He wasn’t going to stop until he found her,” Jones said.

Returning on 60th Rd. after an unsuccessful trip, Justin came upon emergency workers finishing up at the scene of an accident — Alycia’s accident.

“She was only a mile and a half from getting home,” Jones said. “They don’t have any reason for what caused her accident.”

But Jones said she has countless reasons to be thankful for the response that followed.

“It was awesome, so awesome,” she said. “Everybody was saying ‘If there’s anything I can do, just ask.’”

Jones learned that the school system had offered to provide meat and other food items for a luncheon following the March 1 funeral service. David Ragland, the pastor who married Justin and Alycia, returned to conduct the service.

They anticipated perhaps 150; more than 300 people came to the service, from as far away as Maine. Jones said that was a testament to how outgoing and friendly Alycia was.

“I told her mom that if Alycia lived to be 60, we’d have had to be at the Intrust Arena,” Jones said. “She loved this community, she loved everybody she met in it.”

A moving part of the service for Jones was when PBHS student Breanna Lett presented a huge card signed by school students and staff.

“I’ve known that little girl since she was a baby,” Jones said. “I didn’t have the strength to stand, but she had the strength to get up in front of all those people and do that.”

Alycia’s co-workers stepped in to help serve the luncheon, and when the main dish was running low, Peabody Market stepped up.

“I found out the people who owned the store were providing chicken because they ran out of meat,” Jones said. “Everybody was just so concerned and loving.”

Jones said people have been generous in providing food for the family and donating to a fund for financial support.

In the midst of heartbreak, Jones discovered there’s nowhere else she’d rather be.

“If this had to happen, I’m so glad it happened here, she said. “I moved her thinking this was just a frumpy little town; that frumpy little town is now my hometown. We’re living in the right place. The people here are awesome.”

Last modified March 9, 2017

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