Friends take to ice to honor Marine

By AMY RENEE LEIKER | The Wichita Eagle | Published: January 6, 2013

Dressed in her late fiance's blue and black hockey jersey, Andi Valcoure caressed her rounded belly and smiled.

The baby she carries -- a boy due in May to be named Bentley Michael -- had just kicked.

Bentley's been active for the past several days, Valcoure, 21, explained. She felt the first movements an hour after the phone call came that Devan Krausch had died.

"It's a sign from Devan," she said, tears welling in her eyes.

"He would've been a really good dad."

In a show of support for the young fiancee and unborn child of Marine Lance Cpl. Devan Krausch, 22, hundreds of hockey players and spectators gathered Saturday at Wichita Ice Center for a memorial and drop-in hockey game.

Devan's mother, Kim Krausch, said the event started as a small gathering between a few of her son's buddies, who planned to "knock the puck around" in honor of their hockey teammate, one of two military servicemen who died Dec. 27 after a single-car accident in west Wichita.

But word spread. More people came.

And by 7 p.m. Saturday, a few hundred hockey players, family and friends packed the downtown ice skating center for the two-hour game.

"The response and support has been overwhelming," Kim Krausch said.

"It brings comfort to us knowing that he lives on not only in his son, but in everyone."

Inside the rink, a tall, glass jar was filling with bills -- $5s, $10s and $20s.

Friends and hockey teammates 22-year-old Nick Clary, Drew Hutton, 23, and his 27-year-old brother Doug Hutton said the event was about memories, not money, when they posted plans for the game on Facebook.

But they hope the funds raised will help pay to support the son their friend will never meet.

"It's just for Devan's sake and for the child, Bentley," said Doug Hutton, who played hockey with Krausch on local men's league team Lucky 7's.

Krausch suffered fatal injuries Dec. 27 after the car he was riding in struck a culvert beside 13th Street near 135th Street West, went airborne and hit a power pole and utility lines.

Krausch was thrown from the sedan and died later at a local hospital. The 21-year-old driver, U.S. Army Spc. Marcus W. McClellan, died at the scene.

In an interview with The Eagle last week, Tom Krausch called his son an outgoing, "all-around good kid" who was well-loved by those who knew him.

The Marine -- stationed at a Marine base in Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- had been home on leave for Christmas for a few days when the accident occurred.

A few hours before, Krausch and Valcoure found out their baby was a boy.

"When the nurse told us we were having a boy, I'd never seen a look like that," Valcoure said, remembering her fiance's wide smile.

The couple planned to marry after the Marine returned from an upcoming deployment, scheduled to start in May. They had been together for nearly three years.

"He was very happy" knowing he had a son, said Clary, a childhood friend who attended Northwest High School with Krausch.

"As hockey players and men that's our first dream: to get our son involved in the sport."

Clary said now that's his job.

Skating for 'Devo'

Shortly after 6 p.m., players laughed and slapped a hockey puck across the rink.

Tom Krausch was among them. A red, white and blue-stripped ribbon with his son's nickname "Devo" was pinned to his jersey.

The same name was emblazoned on his back.

"This was his passion," said Tom Krausch, who started coaching his son in hockey in 1995, at age 5. "If he wasn't on the football field, he wanted to be at the rink."

"I just think that his life and passion for the game has transcended into so many other things. ... There's lots of memories down here."

He said he hopes the memories will continue when his grandson, Bentley, arrives.

"It will feel like I'm holding my own son," Tom Krausch said, anticipating the baby's May due date.

He paused to swipe at tears.

"It will be like holding my Devo."


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