Hundreds gather to honor explosion victims at South River Market

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SOUTH RIVER, Va (WDBJ7) -- The last time Margaret Ruley saw her son Paul, it was a Thursday night like any other.

"When I was leaving, he got up, walked me to the car, and told me he loved me," she said.

Just a few hours later, Paul would be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was one of four killed in the South River Market explosion a week ago.

"It's so hard to get over. You cry at the drop of a hat," said Ruley.

Friday night, Ruley joined hundreds of others outside this makeshift memorial to the fallen. It was a service filled with faith and song. "Amens" could be heard from the crowd during the sermon, and in between songs like "Amazing Grace." Candles illuminated the crowd as friends and family remembered the four who lost their lives here.

In the hours leading up to the service, a banner reading "We Will Always Remember" was fill with "thanks-yous" and condolences.
Notes, flags and flowers were packed into almost every nook and cranny along the fence surrounding the explosion site.

"I added the roses here," said Hope Plogger, pointing to one bunch of flowers.

Like many in the crowd, Plogger has been coming to South River Market all her life. It's an experience she wanted to share with her kids too.

"It's really heartbreaking know that my children can't enjoy a place that I enjoyed growing up," she said.

Heartbreak was a familiar feeling for many.

"There's no words to really put into it," said neighbor Sharon Pooley.

But as people gathered and talked and remembered the good times, the gatherings, and of course, the hot dogs, there was healing here, too.

"That's what you need. You need community that cares, and we absolutely live in one," said Margaret Ruley.

Members of the South River community are doing plenty more to support the families of those lost. The Bank of Botetourt in Lexington in collecting donations, and a cake walk will be held on June 23.