WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 03, 2010, 03:40 PM

Friends and family gather to remember Andrea Arbuckle

Valley City, ND (WDAY TV) - Family and friends are remembering a young Valley City woman after her sudden death, exactly one year ago. Andrea Arbuckle was just 20-years-old when she drowned in Lake Ashtabula. WDAY 6 reporter Todd Kurtz talked with family as they sent messages to Andrea one year after leaving.

The feeling was clear today: loving, remembering and honoring the life they lost and the person they're still missing.

"We all just really miss her and we are just here for her and her little girl."

Andrea left behind her now 2-year old daughter Laitin, who joined in as everyone sent a message to her mom in the water and then up in the air.

"It helps the healing process. I think everybody gets together shares memories."

Family members say it's hard to imagine it has been a year since they were at this same spot watching rescue boats search for Andrea.

“I remember it well, too well."

Reliving the past, Andrea's 3 sisters skied behind their dad's boat just like the four sisters used to do years ago.

"Anne was always so bubbly, she made everything fun; fun and exciting. She always had a smile on her face."

A smile that was talked about all day, worn by a woman who at a young age played a key role in this close knit family.

"She was the backbone to the family as far as I'm concerned because she just got everybody going on everything."

Andrea's immediate family asked her uncles to go on camera because they say it'd still be too hard for them.

That somber memorial is a reminder for people at the lakes or on rivers to play it safe this holiday weekend. People drown for many reasons, underestimating the power of water, poor swimming skills, boating accidents, falls, or alcohol use. 90 percent of victims aren't wearing life jackets. North Dakota law requires life jackets for tubers and skiers.