ATLANTIC — Six creeks off Atlantic now have special names,
Family and friends gathered together in June to post signs on the waterways to memorialize their loved ones.
The creeks are named for Stephanie Fulcher, Hunter Parks, Jonathan “Kole” McInnis, Jacob “Jake” Taylor, Noah Styron and Michael “Daily” Shepherd.
Those six Down East natives, along with pilot Ernest “Teen” Rawls and his son Jeffrey Rawls, died on Feb. 13 in a plane crash around Drum Inlet.
“I thought it was a great idea,” said James Fulcher, brother of Stephanie and uncle of Kole. “I didn’t realize there were any that hadn’t been officially named, so it was brilliant.”
Jennifer “Bean” Stinnett and Mark Smith devised the plan. Stinnett wanted a way to honor Stephanie, her best friend of nearly 25 years, and her nephew Taylor. Smith had an ideal project.
Smith, working with Joey Smith, requested satellite photos of the waters off Atlantic years ago and began garnering the unofficial names of area creeks from those in the community.
“All of these old names that our parents and grandparents knew will soon fade away,” he said. “We’ve been writing them on the photos, and our dream is to one day have all of them put on a map or chart. We’ll see how these first six go.”
Smith said he’s contacted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with hopes of making the creek names official.
Stinnett ordered the signs from Amazon, and friends graciously donated the 16-foot poles.
“I wanted a part of Stephanie and Jake – and all of them really – to be somewhere on the banks and to be acknowledged there, because they all loved the banks…they were a part of it,” she said. “When I told Mark I wanted us to do something, and he came up with this, I thought it was the perfect thing. They would love this. They would absolutely love it.”
Others on the excursion included: Buddy Goodwin, Riley Goodwin, Cameron Whitlow, Alex Smith, Stacy Fulcher and Andrea Guthrie.
The crew left the docks around 8 a.m. that day and were back around noon.
“It was so beautiful that morning,” Stinnett said. “It was slick cam. It was amazing. We had no problems. It went off without a hitch. It was like they were watching over us, making sure we did it right. It felt like they were there with us.”
James Fulcher is thinking of adding beacon lights to the signs so they can be seen at night, and perhaps even by those on the shore.
Making the project even more memorable, the creeks named for Stephanie, her boyfriend Parks, and McInnis, are near the Fulcher camp on the Outer Banks.
“I would’ve never have thought of this,” Fulcher said. “When it was done that day, we all agreed that it had been such a wonderful thing to be a part of.”