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Students pay tribute to fallen classmates

October 26, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Carried away by a cold breeze, hundreds of scripture verses tied to red and white balloons ascended into a gray sky Thursday afternoon, a tribute by the students of the Cumberland Valley Christian School to the two schoolmates killed in a vehicle accident last Friday.

Within a circle made up of the rest of the student body, the sophomore class linked arms and formed its own circle. Missing were Ethan Gunnell and Timothy Madeiros, both of whom died as a result of the collision between the car they were in and a pickup truck on Letterkenny Road.

"We were brothers ... They've been my best friends since I was 4 or 5," said Tyler Larson, a teammate who was in the car with them. Larson said he and his brother, Andrew, were released from Chambersburg Hospital Sunday.

"I have these guys here to help me out," Larson said of his classmates.

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Another student, Jeff Riedy, was treated and released the day of the accident, a hospital spokeswoman said. The five were returning from soccer practice when the car crossed the center line and collided with the pickup, Pennsylvania State Police said.

"Those guys were my first friends here and they treated my like a brother," said Kevin Brookens, who recently enrolled at the school. "They taught me a lot about life because they lived it to the fullest."

"I just can't wait to see them in heaven," sophomore Austin Sanders said.

"I'll never forget them," said sophomore Joey Myers. "They helped me through a lot of tough times in my life."

A viewing was scheduled for both Gunnell and Madeiros Thursday evening at the Open Door Church, which runs the school. Services for Gunnell are to be held at 10 a.m. today in the school gymnasium and at 2 p.m. for Madeiros, Principal Carl McKee said.

With about 400 students from kindergarten through high school, McKee said the school has a "sense of community."

"We want to be here for one another in the good times and the tough times, like we're going through now," McKee said.

"We're praying not only for their physical healing, but their emotional healing," McKee said of the other students in the accident.

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