OCEAN CITY — Families, friends and teachers shared their collective grief Thursday at the funeral of Edgar Bozzi, one of four teenagers killed in a crash Saturday on the Garden State Parkway.
Bozzi and three football teammates at Mainland Regional High School — Casey Brenner, Dean Khoury and Nicholas Conner — died when their sport utility vehicle overturned at mile marker 38A while they were heading from practice to a team breakfast. Four other students in the vehicle were injured.
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On Thursday, players with the Mustangs, clad in their green and white jerseys, piled out of three Mainland school buses for the funeral at St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in St. Damien Parish. They sat in solidarity in pews at the back of the church, watching as family members took down Bozzi’s jersey and helmet from a shrine before the services.
“We ask why, Lord, why?” Deacon Joseph Orlando said during his homily. “God doesn’t will these things to happen. They just happen. They’re part of the human condition.”
Orlando said he empathized deeply with the family because of his own four children. He called Bozzi “a good and beautiful person whose time in this life was all too short.”
Bozzi’s peers had trouble dealing with the apparent randomness of the accident.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Tyler Thompson, 20, of Somers Point. “None of these people deserve this. It makes you wonder, ‘Why not me?’ These kids were going places.”
Seniors at Mainland Regional will have to contend with the pall of tragedy during a time when they should be filled with hope, excitement and optimism.
“The first month will be horrible,” said Mainland senior Dalton Bew, 17.
Bozzi sat behind him in biology class last year, he said. Bozzi and other friends used to play pickup games of tackle football. Bew said it was always a challenge trying to cover Bozzi because of his speed.
“He was always happy and making jokes,” Bew said. “We laughed a lot together in class.”
Players from across the Cape-Atlantic League, including the entire Pleasantville High School football team, paid their respects to the family.
Bozzi was remembered as a multisport athlete who belonged to the Drama Club and the National Honor Society. He was a mentor to a mentally handicapped child.
“He was such a nice kid. I’ve never seen him unhappy,” said classmate Allison Laffey, 17.
Ocean City High School and AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center provided grief counselors to students at Mainland, Board of Education President John Medica said. Most students are consoling each other, he said.
Medica said he was gratified by the show of support by students from across South Jersey.
“It’s just different chapters of the same fraternity,” he said.
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