SEBRING — It is the site where one of Sebring’s most horrific events took place, but today the former location of the Midtown SunTrust Branch has been turned into a sanctuary of peace and reflection. Reflection Park is being dedicated today to mark the anniversary of the shooting deaths of the five women who died at 1901 U.S. 27. Those women, who have affectionately become known as the “Sebring Five,” were Debra Cook, Marisol Lopez, Jessica Montague, Ana Pinon-Williams and Cynthia Watson.
Family, friends and the entire community will be able to sit on benches in the park-like setting and remember in their own way the women who lost their lives one year ago today. Since Jan. 24, the bank became a makeshift memorial and never reopened. The SunTrust Foundation stepped in and worked with the community, businesses and non-profits to determine what the memorial project would look like.
Today’s dedication is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
“We worked closely with local officials and community leaders to evaluate options for the site that would honor the lives of the five women lost and benefit the Sebring community,” said Lynette Bell, president of the SunTrust Foundation, now Truist Foundation. “We felt it was important to create a safe, quiet space for the community for remembrance and reflection, and a space that will hopefully bring comfort, peace and healing to everyone who visits.”
After razing the bank building, Edgewood Landscape of Avon Park was contracted to create the vision. The hard-scaped park has created a memorial that has a lot of symbolism built into it. The numbers 1, 2, 3, and 5 are represented as the tragedy took place on 01-23-19 at about 12:30 p.m. and there were five women.
A pentagon is featured in the middle of the monument because of its five sides that create a whole. Muted lighting will be no brighter than a glow, creating a warm environment and a plaque will commemorate what happened at the site in perpetuity.
“In terms of the site’s future use, we plan to convene a committee of community citizens and Truist teammates to determine how to best repurpose the site for the long term,” Bell said. “We want to hear from the community and support their decision.”