HARDIN — More than 1,000 people attended the funeral for a 16-year-old girl who died of hypothermia after reportedly walking away from an Interstate 90 rest stop on New Year’s Day.
The body of Selena Not Afraid was found on Jan. 20. Her funeral was held Sunday in the gym at Hardin High School, where she was a student.
Her grandfather, Channis Whiteman, told the students to seek help from counselors in dealing with their emotions and that it was OK to cry, The Billings Gazette reported.
Selena was remembered as someone who loved horses, had a radiant smile and a contagious laugh.
John Joyce, a middle school teacher of Selena’s, asked people to think about the blessings they received from Selena.
“For me it will always be her laughter,” he said. “Her laughter was a way of healing. In about 10 seconds, she and her compadres could take a class and just pretty soon we were reduced to just laughing so hard we were in tears. It wasn’t really good for actually getting the classwork done, but it was good for the soul.”
Others called for Selena’s classmates to honor her memory by pursuing their goals.
At the cemetery, Pastor Daniel Knows His Gun urged people to come together.
“Celebrate her life by holding each other,” he said. “Don’t forget this unity.”
The search for Selena raised awareness for missing and murdered indigenous people and candlelight vigils were held across the state.
The circumstances leading to Selena’s death are still being investigated.