POCATELLO, Idaho — Hundreds of people gathered outside Holt Arena in Pocatello on Saturday afternoon for the fifth annual Bill Parrish Family Memorial 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.
A total of 81 teams competed in the ever growing tourney this year, and many other people came out to watch and provide support for the Parrish family, the Idaho State Journal reported.
The tournament began in August 2014 as a way to memorialize Bill Parrish, his wife Ross Parrish and two of their sons, Keegan and Liam, after they tragically died of carbon monoxide poisoning on Feb. 22, 2014.
Bill Parrish’s oldest children, Ian and Jensen Parrish, were both away serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time.
In the four years since losing their immediate family, the siblings said they are living their lives as best and as fully as they can.
“Today as I was walking over here, I was thinking how cool it was,” Jensen said of the basketball tournament. “Obviously, we would prefer that they hadn’t died. But if it had to happen, how neat that we could make something of it. I really think that (my family) would feel honored and happy to know that because of what happened to them, so much has happened and lives have been saved.”
After the deaths of Bill and Ross and their two youngest sons, members of the Parrish family began the No C.O. Foundation, which aims to educate people about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and encourage people to protect themselves.
At the tournament, the No C.O. Foundation gave out carbon monoxide detectors and information about the colorless, odorless and fatal gas.
Ian said that though his family fell victim to carbon monoxide poisoning, due, he said, to a leak in the water heater, he hopes that through the No C.O. Foundation, other families can be saved.
“Unfortunately, my family didn’t think about (carbon monoxide),” he said. “My whole mindset has kind of been that we lost four people, so no one else has to.”
Jensen said she and her family have received letters from people who said their carbon monoxide detectors have saved their lives.
“I think it’s something that a lot of people don’t realize,” Jensen said. “Everyone has a smoke detector, and in my mind, I think, ‘if we have a smoke detector, and we can clearly see and smell smoke, why don’t we have a carbon monoxide detector?’”
She added that she believes carbon monoxide poisoning to be one of the most “unnecessary” ways to die.
And though she said she misses her family immensely, Jensen also said many blessings have come in the four and a half years since their deaths.
The year after the tragedy, Jensen got married and last June, she gave birth to her first child. She also graduated Idaho State University with a degree in writing and English and still lives in Pocatello with her husband.
1: Get a carbon monoxide detector for every level of your home. Place them outside of the bedrooms in the hallways and at least 20 feet from fuel burning appliances.
2. Have you fuel burning appliances checked yearly for faulty lines, wires and ventilation!
Ian is currently living in Rexburg and attending school at Brigham Young University-Idaho, studying psychology. Looking back on the past few years, he said things have gotten both easier and harder.
“When you first lose someone like that, you’re kind of numb to the whole thing,” Ian said. “Then after, when you start feeling that grief and emotion, it gets harder because you’re getting older, and you need some guidance. But you just keep leaning on the good and pushing away the bad.”
But Ian and Jensen both said that the love and support from their extended family has helped them heal.
"I knew that our family unit was really strong, but after they passed, I feel like it really brought our family closer in so many ways," Jensen said. "It’s been hard, but so many blessings have come from it."