Police shut down fundraising site raising money for teen's funeral

WEST LINN, Ore. - Police have shut down a questionable fundraising website for a teenager killed in a car crash last weekend.

Madison Higgins was only 17 when she died Monday. She was a passenger in the car in a Sunday crash on Southwest Petes Mountain Road north of Southwest Hoffman Road. Her boyfriend, 18-year-old Hayden Soyk, was the driver of the car and also died when the car crashed into a power pole.

It only took a day or two for a fundraiser to raise more than $2,000 to buy flowers for Maddi's funeral. And it only took another day for police to shut that fundraiser down.

A detective told KATU News that he's not calling it a hoax. He said nothing illegal happened because the woman who created the fundraiser never collected any money. Police won't charge the woman from Vancouver with a crime.

Maddi's grandmother and uncle said a stranger was hoping to use Maddi's tragedy to be deep in profit.

"For someone to do something in the midst of someone's deep personal tragedy is just beyond understanding," said Troy Yown, Maddi's uncle. "There are people like that out there that would prey on the weak and vulnerable, and if there's something we can do to get the message out to increase people's awareness, not to fall for such things, she'd like that to happen, too."

Maddi's family got help from police to shut down the GoFundMe website.

The website has a waiting period before transferring donations to the creator.

On her Facebook page, the woman defended herself saying, "My sole purpose was to cover funeral flowers and give back to the community ... how could this go so wrong?"

How can you tell if a fundraiser is real?

That's a tricky question. Anyone can create a page on GoFundMe.

According to GoFundMe, its first rule is to only give money to people you know personally.

On Saturday, Maddi's friends and family will hold a celebration of her life. The ceremony will be at Southlake Church in West Linn at 2:05 in the afternoon.

It'll start at five after the hour because five was Maddi's softball jersey number.