Approximately 300 people attended the candlelight vigil held Tuesday on the Long Reach High School football field to remember Eugene Owen Swen, 16, who died March 31.
Swen—a sophomore who played varsity football and wore the number "2" jersey—died at his Columbia home, according to his friend Brendon Thomas, who helped organize the vigil.
Students, faculty and friends huddled to stay warm at the windy April 10 event, where they shared stories about Swen.
“I didn’t expect to lose Eugene like this,” said one student. “But he would want us to keep our head high and always stay strong.”
Some students created shirts with "Swen" and the number "2" on the back. Swen's teammates came out in their jerseys.
“I love that boy like a brother,” said one football player. “And my biggest regret is that I’ll never get to tell him that.”
A Long Reach faculty member said she remembered Swen always greeting her with a smile in the hallway.
“We are all here for you guys no matter what,” said Ms. Ashley. “You’re our children, and we care about you guys.”
Long Reach staff and Howard County's crisis team met with students upon their return from spring break this week to offer support, although the vigil was not a school-sponsored event.
As the crowd members put up their hands, forming the No. 2 with their fingers, two black and purple balloons were released into the cloudless night sky.
Share your memories of Eugene Swen in the comments and photo sections.