Evan Etoch legacy lives on in community

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Evan Etoch legacy lives on in communityIn 2010, 14-year-old Evan Etoch was killed in an accident. “When we needed it, the community was there for us,” recalled Fred Etoch. The passing of the charismatic and fun-loving boy stunned thousands. In the days that would follow, the community united behind the Etoch family, sharing in their grief for the sudden loss.

For months, Evan’s friends made daily visits to the Etoch family home as his survivors grasped for ways to cope.

One of those avenues turned out to be setting up a fund in his memory. Fred and Janelle Etoch asked friends and relatives to, instead of sending flowers, contribute donations that would benefit Evan’s classmates. They raised enough money to remodel the weight room and buy all new equipment, at the Burroughs High School gymnasium.

Money kept coming in — supplemented by regular contributions from the Etoch family and matching donations from Toyota’s corporate offices. So the family set up the Evan Etoch Foundation. In the nine and a half years since his death, people have contributed more than $300,000 in his memory.

All of that money has been reinvested into the community.

“Evan loved Ridgecrest,” said Janelle. “I don’t think he ever would have left.”

In honor of his passion for our community — and especially for sports and recreation — his parents have left endowments to support activities for other young people in the community to enjoy.

Two years ago, the Etoch family started the “Trunk or Treat” tradition at Ridgecrest City Hall. With the help of scores of hard-working volunteers, the Etoch family saw thousands of children find treats in a safe environment.

Considering Evan’s, and his sister Blair’s, childhood spent at Pinney Pool and summer programs in the Kerr McGee Center, Janelle said, she thought continuing to offer community events at the City Hall complex seemed a natural fit for their mission.

“It’s a great thing for our youth, but it’s also kind of a healing process for us,” said Fred. Almost a decade later, “It’s still kind of hard to talk about. It doesn’t feel like something that happened a long time ago.”

“I know I speak for Fred when I say that Evan is still the first thing on our minds in the morning and the last thing on our minds at night,” said Janelle.

Pictured: Evan Etoch

Story First Published: 2019-08-02