The tot lot at a park in Montgomery County, Maryland, has some unique features. That’s because it was built to honor a woman and her two young children who died years ago, when a private jet crashed into their Gaithersburg home.
Marie Gemmell, her 3-year-old son Cole and 7-week-old baby Devin died in the crash in 2014. Her husband, Ken and their then-5-year-old daughter were not home when it happened.
Ken Gemmell is honoring his late wife and children with Where Angels Play, a group that builds playgrounds to honor victims of tragedies.
Together with Gemmell, the group raised $80,000 in about a year and a half to build a tot lot at Griffith Park, Mary Kate Herber with Where Angels Play told WTOP.
“[Ken] had reached out to us and said ‘I love what you’re doing and what can I do to get a playground built for my family?'” Herber said.
All of the funds used to build the park were raised by donations and sponsorships. The tot lot is for kids aged 2 to 5.
“It’s our blessing to do and it’s really a gift from Marie, Devin and Cole to the community of Gaithersburg,” Herber said.
Elements of the victims’ lives and their personalities were worked into the design of the tot lot, including their favorite colors. A panel featuring theater masks honors Marie and her love for the arts. Another panel with a soccer ball commemorates Cole. And a large tugboat features the name “U.S.S. Devin.”
“We like to celebrate how they lived and not how they left us,” Herber said.
The tot lot is in Griffith Park at 29 South Summit Avenue.
WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.