FORT PIERCE, Fla. - Friends and family turned out by the hundreds to remember a 9-year-old boy killed Monday in a school bus crash in St. Lucie County.
They attended a memorial service for Aaron Beauchamp at Ft. Pierce Central High School Wednesday afternoon.
The sign outside the school said it all: Aaron Beauchamp, you will always have a home here.
More than 850 people filled the auditorium and the cafeteria.
As the crowd entered, they watched a slide show of Beauchamp.
Aaron's mother is principal at Manatee Academy but before she got that position last year, she was the assistant principal at Ft. Pierce Central for 7 years; so this loss deeply affects the entire educational community.
"It is really heartbreaking - as soon as the crash took place and I heard who it was, I lost it, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't grasp...Aaron was part of the Central family," said Keanan Rice, a Central grad.
Samantha Watkins, another Central grad said, "Things that he loved to do, the kind of kid that he was, just the little silly tendencies that he had, and just how much of a fun-loving kid that he really, really was.
The principal at Ft. Pierce Central said other principals and staff were filling in where necessary so anyone who wanted to attend the memorial could.
Aaron loved to play soccer. David Robertson said in the 40 years he's been playing soccer, he probably learned more from Aaron than Aaron learned from him as a coach. "But Aaron always showed up with a great attitude and the big thing is his smile. He carries his smile. And he is going to be missed on the soccer fields, but he is going to be scoring goals somewhere else and he is going to be smiling somewhere else."
A long funeral procession made its way from the service to the cemetery north of Fort Pierce.
The bus Beauchamp was riding was hit by a semi-truck as it attempted to turn onto Midway Road from Okeechobee Road on Monday afternoon.
The driver and more than a dozen students were injured. 2 students remain hospitalized at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Ft. Pierce and, at least count from Florida Highway Patrol, 4 students are still at St. Mary's medical Center in West Palm Beach.
FHP released the names of those children hospitalized there. 10-year-old Kristen Martens, 10-year-old Ryan Shed and 9-year-old Kayla Jungjohan are all listed in stable condition. 11-year-old Joey Yannucci is listed in serious but stable condition.
The Beauchamp family belongs to Temple Beth El in Port St. Lucie. There were grief counselors from hospice on hand last night to talk with the children at a special service. They have also established the Aaron Beauchamp Memorial Fund. You can contribute at any TD Bank.
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