Students pay tribute to Bertels

Photo used from the late Hailey Bertels' Facebook page

Story by Lindsey Coleman, Assistant News Editor 

In the aftermath of the third horrific tragedy to affect Murray State’s community in the past two months, students are uniting to honor the life of junior Hailey Bertels by raising money for her family.

Hannah Travis, junior from Princeton, Kentucky, first had the idea to sell bracelets and help Bertels’ family during an indescribably difficult time. She said a GoFundMe page had already been started, and she wanted to contribute.

“I knew everyone would love to have something in memory of her,” Travis said.

Bertels and Travis’ friendship began their freshman year of college. Travis said they had class together, lived in the same dorm and were in the same major: communications disorders. She said Bertels was someone she could go to for anything, and she had a heart for others.

“Hailey was a very radiant person,” Travis said. “Her smile was contagious, and she wanted everyone to know their worth. I have been blessed to of had the opportunity to know Hailey and to have her as a friend.”

She teamed up with three of her friends to buy the bracelets, and she chose purple for the color of the bracelet, which was Bertels’ favorite color.

“It has brought me joy and comfort to see everyone come together to honor Hailey,” Travis said. “It just shows how much of an impact that she had on so many individuals.”

Sydney Owen, junior from Owensboro, Kentucky, said she considers Bertels to be her first friend she met at Murray State. They bonded during sorority recruitment her freshman year.

“She would stop at nothing to make you smile and it truly was impossible to be around her without laughing,” Owen said.

Owen described Bertels as the type of friend that deeply cared and wanted the best for everyone, and she most admired Bertels’ ability to be unapologetically herself at all times. She said it’s been amazing to see how the greek community and the whole campus has rallied around Bertels.

“I think it is a true testament to the impact and the light that she brought to everyone she met,” Owen said.

To purchase a bracelet, contact Travis at All revenue from the bracelets will go directly to the family.

On Nov. 21, as Bertels and her sister Madisen, both from Staunton, Illinois, were traveling on Interstate 55 in Illinois, the driver of a semi-truck ran into Bertels’ car and seven other vehicles, according to a State Police Report. The sisters passed away at the scene.

The day after the tragedy, President Bob Davies sent a sorrowful email to the campus community.

“We grieve the loss of Hailey,” Davies wrote. “More importantly, we send our condolences and support to her family and friends as they are dealing with this heartbreaking situation involving multiple family members.”