GREENWOOD,Ind (July 29, 2015)-- A celebration of life was held Wednesday night at the Greenwood Community Church. The event honored three of the five victims killed in a car crash along I-65 last week.
"The finality that they they are dead is striking," said Gary Deboard, youth pastor at the Greenwood Community Church.
"To lose Jill and Branson and Aidan is catastrophic," said family friend Kim Sharp.
Sharp delivered the eulogy at Wednesday's service. There were more than 1,000 people in attendance.
"I feel a quiet joy, and I haven't until now," said Betty Mellencamp as she exited the church.
"It's a celebration looking back on their lives, but also looking forward to the hope in our faith," said Jason Gallman, the associate pastor at Greenwood Community Church.
Last Friday, Jill, Aidan, 8, and Branson, 10, were killed in a fiery crash along 1-65 near Lafayette. They were on their way back home to central Indiana after a trip to Chicago. Indiana State Police say a semi-truck carrying cooking oil didn't stop while approaching a construction zone. A chain-reaction crash ensued. Five people died including the truck driver.
"Branson is a great guy to play with," said Jack Schmitz
Jack is one of Branson's best friends.They planned on making pizza together when Branson returned from Chicago on Friday.
Branson never arrived.
"With Branson having Down Syndrome, he was a special boy who required special attention. And his brother Aidan, even though he was younger, he somehow understood that in a very unique way," said Deboard.
They are survived by Jill's husband Paul and three other children. Paul spoke at Wednesday's celebration of life and asked his family and friends for three favors. He requested that people continue to send him pictures of the good times they shared with his family. Also, he encouraged everyone to invite a child with special needs to a social gathering. Finally, he asked people to smile when thinking about Jill, Aidan and Branson.
Memorial contributions can be made to Down Syndrome of Indiana.