FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Funeral services were held Sunday for two teenaged brothers killed in a tragic accident in Roswell.
Funeral services for 18-year-old James "Jim" Pratt and his 14-year-old brother, Joseph "Joe" Pratt, took place at 2 p.m. at Piedmont Church, located at 570 Piedmont Road in Marietta.
The brothers were killed last Monday afternoon when their vehicle smashed into the side of a school bus carrying special needs students along Georgia Highway 92 (Woodstock Road) near West Road. According to Roswell police, the car they were in became lodged under the school bus after the wreck occurred.
Police said the brothers died on impact. None of the students on board the bus were injured.
The boys were students at Lassiter High School in Marietta and members of the NJROTC program. They will also be acknowledged at the school's commencement ceremony, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. on May 25.
The day after the wreck, a cloud of grief hung over Lassiter High School for the two brothers. Students said the school was eerily quiet.
“If there were no tears, there was nothing. It's hard because it affects the whole school it wasn't just the seniors, sophomores or the freshman, it was school wide,” said student Madison Mikulak. Madison and Jordan Fricano placed balloons and flowers at the crash site Tuesday evening.
Last week, students wore red to remember their friends. The girls Lacrosse team wore red ribbons during their game. An online fundraising to help pay for the funerals surpassed the goal of $25,000 in less than 7 hours. If you would like to donate, click here.
"These two cadets are fine young men who we believe that if had the chance they would have served our community well and we all would have been proud of them," said First Sgt. Lorenzo Cox, Naval Science Instructor.
Lassiter's NJROTC instructors met with cadets on campus Tuesday afternoon, supporting one another during this difficult time.
"We are going to deal with it together, as brothers and sisters of our cadet corps, with the help of our great administration we are going to help the family pull through," said First Sgt Cox.
James, in his senior year at Lassiter, had recently enlisted in the Marine Corps and was scheduled to ship off to Boot Camp after graduation.
"Jim was a wonderful young man, maturing, so warm and kind, really put his heart into the organization," said Capt. Jim Minta, Naval Science Instructor.
Instructors said 14-year-old Joseph was a good kid, had a great sense of humor, and flourished in the program his freshman year.
"Going into his second semester I think he was finally figuring it out and unfortunately he didn't get a chance to take the ball and run with it," said Cox.
As they come to grips with the loss of these young cadets, students and staff are doing what they can for James and Joseph's family.
"I know how much they've gone through and the family needs your prayers and all that we can do for them and I pray that we all continue to support the family," said Cox.
SKYFOX 5 flew over the scene Monday as only one westbound lane on GA-92 was open for about an hour following the crash.
Grief counselors have remained hand at Lassiter and will be for as long as needed, according to Principal Chris Richie, who released a letter to the "Lassiter Families" last Tuesday morning.
The letter reads, in part:
There are no words that eases the pain that has devastated our Lassiter family and left us heartbroken. James was a senior and Joe was a freshman; both can only be described as academically motivated, exceptional young men, with tremendous leadership potential that we witnessed daily throughout our school and in our NJROTC program.
On behalf of all members of the Lassiter staff, our deepest condolences are with the Pratt family and friends during this difficult time.
Their NJROTC instructor spoke to members of the media following the devastating wreck. He said both brothers worked very hard in the program and described them as wonderful young men.
Joe and Jim also volunteered with LHS NJROTC at Brumby Elementary School during special events.
The Pratts leave behind their mom, Jamie Calabrese, and sisters Stella and Lilly. Lilly, who is a junior at Lassiter HS, is also in NJROTC.
FOX 5 News has also learned from neighbors that last September the family's Moss Ridge Court home went up in flames. FOX 5 spoke with the boys' mother the morning after the fire happened last year.
Roswell police said they will continue investigating what caused the crash that claimed the brothers' lives.
Police are also investigating a separate wreck on GA-92 in south Fulton County on the same day that left four students from Langston Hughes High School dead.