HAVERHILL — The city remembered one of its most cherished student-athletes Wednesday when a tree was planted near the entrance to the high school’s Sapienza Memorial Track in memory of Jordan Rankin.
A lifelong resident and Haverhill High School senior, Jordan, 17, died Sept. 25, 2018 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
Mayor James Fiorentini, members of the Haverhill Police Department and School Committee, and members of the Haverhill High School community gathered at the edge of the sports field behind Haverhill High for the tree-planting ceremony.
The Department of Public Works provided a 6- to 8-foot-tall bald cypress, which can grow to 60 feet and live for more than 100 years.
Prior to the ceremony, Jordan’s father, John Rankin, said the site was a fitting one to remember his daughter, as she played various sports on the high school's fields from her early years through her time in high school.
"We're very happy and appreciative to know everyone has us in their thoughts," he said.
Jordan attended Sacred Hearts School in Bradford before entering Haverhill High School, where she played lacrosse, soccer, field hockey and track.
She worked at Market Basket in the Westgate Plaza in Haverhill in addition to her many other activities.
In the Sept. 24, 2018, crash, police said Owen Foote, 20, of Methuen, was driving more than twice the speed limit in a 2017 Chevy Silverado pickup truck and blew through the stop sign at the intersection of Liberty and Crystal streets, striking Rankin’s 2005 Chevy Malibu, which had the right of way.
Rankin was heading home after playing in a field hockey game at Trinity Stadium.
Members of the Rankin family attending the ceremony also included Jordan's mother, Cindy Rankin, and Jordan's older brother Johnny and older sister Julia.
Also present were John Rankin's sisters, Deb Bubar, Kathy Thorlton and Jane Johansen, along with her husband, Paul. Also attending were Cindy Rankin's sister Dianne Boebel and her husband, Ted, along with their daughters Marina and Elliana.
Julia Rankin told the crowd that the past 13 months have not been easy for her family but that all of the kind gestures from students, sports teams, high school staff and Mayor James Fiorentini made things a little easier.
"To see how everyone reaches out and doesn't hesitate to make everything for Jordan to keep her memory alive makes me speechless," she said. "We're extremely appreciative of everything and adore the way everyone keeps her memory alive. Jordan may be gone, but she will never be forgotten."
Fiorentini told the crowd, "When you plant a tree, you plant hope."