CHILI, N.Y. (WROC) — A tree planted and a plaque placed in Davis Park in Chili is a spot for the community to honor and remember Brittanee Drexel.

Drexel vanished in 2009 in South Carolina while on a spring break trip. This month, a man was finally arrested in connection with her disappearance, and her remains were found.

In Davis Park, Drexel played soccer in high school. Her former coach, Michael Slattery, said the young girl was full of spunk and spirit. He said the memorial there is essential for the Drexel family and for Chili. 

“Now to have some closure, it’s just a relief to the community, but more to the family,” Slattery said.

Slattery said this spot is perfect for her family and the public, to honor her life. “The tree was planted for Brittanee in the town park because Brittanee spent so many hours and days here playing soccer for Chili soccer — so this is personal for her and her family,” he said.

Chili residents also came out to the memorial and said, after 13 years, this is also closure for them.

“I felt led to come here. My heart just wanted to be here, with this family. My heart breaks for what they’ve gone through,” Alicia Joy said.

Daniel Sullivan knows the Drexels — and said right now they’re all doing the best they can. 

“It would be a blessed thing for them to heal, but still not over the hurt that Brittany is gone. It never goes away,” said Sullivan.

Slattery said it’s impossible for so many to understand the emotions the Drexels have felt over the past 13 years. He hopes that, at least, this memorial can be a spot for some peace. 

“And we as people [just need to] continue to pray for them — lift them up and respect their privacy,” he said.

On June 11, there will be a celebration of life for Brittanee in Chili open to the public. The event will take place at The Father’s House on Paul Road.