Earth camp remembers Columbia astronaut, parents

Laurel Clark died on Space Shuttle, her parents were killed in Tucson car crash

Turning loss into lessons

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s been a week since an Oro Valley couple was killed in a three-car crash on Tangerine and La Canada.

Police identified the victims as 85-year-old Richard Brown and 85-year-old Marjory Brown.

The Oro Valley Police Department said the crash happened at the intersection of La Canada and Tangerine around 9 a.m.

The Browns were driving a Toyota Rav 4 when a 19-year-old driver, driving a white Ford Raptor made a u-turn and collided with them.

The collision pushed the Browns car into the path of an oncoming tow truck. Their car also hit a tree.

Two other people suffered injuries that are not life threatening.

The OVPD Traffic Unit responded to investigate and drugs or alcohol do not appear to be a factor at this time

It's a tragedy following several others this family has had to deal with.

Richard and Marjory Brown have close ties to the space shuttle Columbia disaster back in 2003. As close as you can get.

One of the NASA astronauts involved in it was Marjory's daughter, and Richard's step-daughter, Laurel Clark.

Clark conducted science experiments in space aboard the shuttle but sadly, her mission was cut short when the shuttle broke apart during re-entry. Killing her and six other crew members.

The loss of their daughter led them to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Amy Orchard with a new mission shortly after her death.

"Marge and Dick approached the Desert Museum hoping to create a memorial to carry on Laurel's legacy," said Orchard, an Education Specialist at the Desert Museum.

That memorial would become known as Laurel Clark’s Earth Camp. A way for students to get outside, and explore science in a new way. It’s what attracted middle school student Jack Pacheco this summer.

"It meant a lot. It meant that I had a purpose over the summer to actually do something here and get out of the house," said Pacheco.

Pacheco’s group would be the last summer session with Richard and Marjory. It’s an experience he says he’ll never forget.

"I feel like we're lucky. Really lucky. I would tell them thank you."

Now, it's not only Laurel's legacy that will live on here at the Desert Museum. But it's her words that are helping Orchard find comfort and strength to continue teaching about this family and the legacy they leave behind in Tucson.

“It says ‘life continues in lots of places. And life is a magical thing.’ Their life is going to continue on in another place in another way and it will be magical,” said Orchard.

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