“He loved the beach,” Lynn Brenner said of her 17-year-old son, Casey Brenner. “In fact, he would have been there today and he would have even packed his own lunch.”
Casey Brenner was driving an SUV with seven other members of the Mainland Regional High School football team when he lost control of the vehicle Saturday morning on the Garden State Parkway. The vehicle overturned on the southbound portion of the parkway near Exit 38A. Brenner, Edgar Bozzi,17, of Somers Point, Nick Conner, 16, of Northfield and Dean Khoury, 15, of Linwood were all killed.
The players were on their way to breakfast at Old Country Buffet in Mays Landing — a tradition for the team after the final summer practice.
Sunday afternoon, cars lined narrow Merritt Drive, an off-shoot of New Road in Northfield. A crowd of family members spilled out onto the front porch and sunny wooded lot of the Brenner home.
Lynn Brenner wore sunglasses and tried to hold back tears as she spoke of her 6-foot son. She described him as a focused young man — “a neat freak” — who always made his bed and steamed his clothes every night before a school day. And Faith Reilly, Casey’s aunt, said he had a high level of maturity for a teenager.
“He was very self-sufficient and his mother taught him that,” Reilly said.
Meghan Reilly, Casey’s cousin, wrapped her arm around Lynn Brenner Sunday afternoon and spoke softly but with a smile about the young man with the light blond hair and dark tan.
“He was my baby. Ever since he was little I always called him that. When I spent summers here we always watched movies. He loved movies,” Meghan Reilly said.
And he loved country music — Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and Sugarland — and he loved his Ipod, crabcakes and football. He was preparing for his senior year and the upcoming season on the varsity football team.
“He said he didn’t care if he sat on the bench, he was going to be out there,” she said.
Brenner said Casey was dubbed with the nickname “Cheddabob” because he was typically silly.
“Just the other day he was washing the car and using the Shop Vac and he called me at work to tell me it wasn’t working and he didn’t know why. He said it was plugged in and then he realized he didn’t turn it on,” she said, raising her hands to her face and laughing.
She said her son loved his brothers and once his older brother Ryan got bigger, Casey hit the gym to catch up. She said her son did two workouts a day in the gym.
“Casey was always real thin. He put on a lot of muscle weight and he was determined to play this year,” she said.
“It was funny, the players on the team recently got mohawks and it lasted on Casey for two days. He shaved it off and said it was ridiculous,” she said and laughed.
She said he never missed an opportunity to spend time with her. They danced at parties and family gatherings and recently he went to the Ocean City Boardwalk with her and his cousins.
As the summer was winding down she said her son was contemplating his future and plans for college next year.
“His goal was to go to the University of Delaware. I wanted him to apply in September. But we didn’t even get far enough to decide what he would study,” she said crying.
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