Gaithersburg Partnering with Nonprofit To Build Park in Memory of Three Killed in Plane Crash

Gaithersburg Partnering with Nonprofit To Build Park in Memory of Three Killed in Plane Crash

Ribbon cutting tentatively set for Sept. 15

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Untitled design - 2019-08-19T144734.955

A rendering of the park to be built in memory of three members of the Gemmell family.

Rendering via city of Gaithersburg

The city of Gaithersburg is partnering with a national nonprofit to build a new playground in honor of three people killed in 2014 when a plane crashed into their home.

On the morning of Dec. 8, 2014, Ken Gemmell was at work in Alexandria, Va., when a co-worker told him that a plane had gone down outside the Montgomery County Airpark. The Gemmells lived about a mile off the flight path.

Marie Gemmell was at home, on maternity leave with the couple’s 7-week-old son, Devin, and their 3-year-old son, Cole. The three died in the crash; Marie was found cradling the boys, according to police reports.

The playground being built in the trio’s memory is adjacent to Griffith Park in Gaithersburg, and will be designed for children 2 to 5 years old.

Two surviving members of the family, Ken and daughter Arabelle, are designing the playground and will serve as project chairs, according to a news release from the city of Gaithersburg. Arabelle was at school when the crash occurred.

The project is being spearheaded by national nonprofit Where Angels Play Foundation. The foundation formed in the wake of a mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 dead, including 20 young children. Where Angels Play aims to build “fun places for children to be children” by honoring “young lives that have left us much too soon,” according to the organization’s mission statement.

“May these playgrounds provide a symbol of hope, recovery and a return to normalcy, a gift to our youth in an effort to enhance and sustain their precious childhood,” the mission statement says.

People are invited to support the Gaithersburg project from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 12 to 14 at the park site. Volunteers on those days can help construct the park on South Summit Avenue, adjacent to Gaithersburg City Hall. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is tentatively set for 11 a.m. Sept. 15.

A fundraiser to help offset the cost of the project is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 14 at Quincy’s Bar & Grille in Gaithersburg.

Donations can also be made online.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at

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