DES MOINES, Iowa — People handle grief in different ways. Some try to avoid places or pictures that remind them of their lost loved one. Josh Okland and his family honored their relative Tuesday by playing at the park with a playground named in her honor: The Ashley Okland Star Playground at Ewing Park in Des Moines.
“A park is where people come to be happy,” Okland explained, “And that reminds me of my sister, as well. It means the world to have this park here.”
The park opened in 2014 after volunteers raised more than $500,000. It is designed to be all-inclusive with a rubberized surface underneath the equipment and wheelchair ramps.
“The fact that it’s all-inclusive,” Okland said,” That’s how she (Ashley) was. She was all-inclusive.”
Ashley Okland’s family has been through a trying decade. Thursday marks ten years since someone shot Okland while she worked as a realtor in a model townhome in West Des Moines. She later died in the hospital.
West Des Moines police say they have followed nearly 900 leads and interviewed more than 500 people but have never named a suspect in Okland’s death.
Josh Okland said that his family hasn’t given up but also doesn’t expect to hear of an arrest soon. “I think they’re looking for some key information. I have a hard time believing that they don’t have anything.”
In the meantime, Okland hopes that someone out there knows something that can help police finally solve this case. “Time seems to move quickly … and also very slowly,” Okland said of the long wait for answers. “Time marches on.”
Josh Okland said his family is encouraging people to do a good gesture for someone this week to honor his late sister.