When she was 14 years old, Gabby Petito starred in a music video titled “Irreplaceable” to help spread awareness about violence against children after the Sandy Hook massacre.
She and her two younger brothers appeared in the 2013 video, whose song was produced and sung by fellow Long Island native Deb Henson, who told The Sun that its inspiration was the school shooting that left 26 people dead, including 20 kids, in Newtown, Conn.
In the video, Petito — whose death has been ruled a homicide after her body was found near a Wyoming campsite – is seen holding a sign that reads: “I’m irreplaceable.”
“The lyrics are almost eerie now. It’s ironic and tragic that she’s in this video and that this happened to her,” Henson told the news outlet.
“This song isn’t just about violence against kids. It’s also about domestic violence and violence in general. It’s just God awful really what happened to Gabby,” added Henson, who recalled the “magical weekend” when the video was shot.
“It was two days of filming on a Saturday and Sunday, and I just remember it was really hard for everybody because of the subject matter — and Gabby was such a bright light, even at 14,” she told News 12 Long Island.
“She was just this kid who was really sweet and just wanted to be involved and help,” Henson told the cable outlet.
The lead actress in the video, Maija Polsley, a close friend of the slain woman’s stepmother, Tara Petito, arranged for the three siblings to take part in the production, according to The Sun.
“Gabby was just, just the sweetest kid, she was just so full of love, she just wanted to help and be involved in any way she could,” Henson said.
“Gabby was an artist. Maija calls Gabby her flower child. She was just one of those people that was just so lovable. I think that’s why her story has resonated the way it has,” she told the outlet.
“It just breaks my heart. It gets me. It’s just so sad,” Henson said about the young woman’s death. “I have so many people reach out to me saying the same thing.”
She said she hopes that, eventually, “something great will come out of this tragedy,” adding that all the proceeds from the video on iTunes and Spotify will go toward a fund to help the grieving family.
Petito was remembered for her zest for life at an emotional memorial service Sunday on Long Island, where her tearful father also hinted at her tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who has disappeared and is being sought by authorities.
“The entire planet knows this woman’s name,” Joe Petito told the packed crowd at Moloney’s Funeral Home in Holbrook. “And she’s inspired a lot of women and a lot of men to do what’s best for them first. Put yourself first. And do it now while you have time.”
Gabby and Laundrie left her parents’ Suffolk County home on July 2, with the pair blogging about their trip.
But the tension between the pair surfaced last month, and Gabby mysteriously vanished — while Laundrie returned home to Florida without her on Sept. 1 and then vanished. He has been indicted on fraud charges for illegally using a debit card after Gabby disappeared.