Classmates, friends prepare high school for teen’s memorial service

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FRANKLIN – A central Indiana community is preparing to say goodbye to a teen whom many are calling a hero.

Search crews found the body of 17-year-old Jason Moran in the Big Blue River in Edinburgh on Sunday. He’d gone swimming with a group of five, but the trip would prove fatal for two of them, as 16-year-old Michael Chadbourne is on a ventilator awaiting organ procurement.

In addition, 16-year-old Sarah McLevish remains in critical condition at IU Health’s Methodist Hospital.

Students came out Tuesday night to turn Franklin Community High School blue for Moran’s memorial service, which is at the school on Wednesday. The tragedy is still gripping the Johnson County community.

Everywhere you look, there’s a reminder in Franklin of rapids that claimed two lives and hold a third in the balance.

“Life’s something really fragile,” said J.T. Sargent, a classmate of the victims, “People are realizing that sometimes accidents happen, and life gets hard.”

Blue and white ribbons are all across the town, in memory of 17-year-old Jason Moran and 16-year-old Michael Chadbourne.

“From this, a lot of people will be better people, and they’re going to realize, these kids died for people they love,” said Sargent.

Sargent said he and other classmates are soul-searching.

Moran, Chadbourne, 17-year-old Trent Crabb, and 18-year-old Mark Naley, tried to save 16-year-old Sarah McLevish, swept over the dam in Edinburgh, on Friday.  Classmates said the weekend proved heartbreaking and very difficult.

But Tuesday night brought one way to heal.

“I felt like I needed to do something for the moms, for the parents,” said Lydia Wales.

Lydia Wales started the blue ribbon movement and helped students line the halls with words of comfort to greet those that will pay their respects.

“They need to be with their classmates. They don’t need parents listening to every word they’re saying,” she said.

For the seniors, it’s a sad start to summer and a lesson you can’t learn in a classroom. Life is short.

“I think that a lot of people are going to start living life to the fullest and yeah, really loving each other,” said Sargent.

A visitation for Jason Moran will be held at the high school from 1-7 p.m. on Wednesday.

You’re asked to use the athletic entrance on the west side of the building, doors 14, 15, and 16. A memorial service will follow at 7 p.m.

The family will hold a private funeral service on Thursday.

An official fund has been set up on behalf of all five families. The account has been named: FCHS Family Fund and will be held at Heartland Community Bank, a Horizon Bank Company.

For anyone wishing to make a donation, checks can be made payable to FCHS Family Fund and dropped off at any Heartland Community or Horizon Bank location or mailed to Franklin Community High School at 2600 Cumberland Drive, Franklin, IN, 46131.