It should not be this way. The Friday morning car crash that killed a 17-year-old Dacula High School student driving to school now has also claimed the life of his younger brother.
Jared and Jaison Brown were incredibly close, playful and deeply competitive, family members told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday. The boys would not only finish each other’s sentences, they would riff on each other’s weird dance moves, family said.
The deaths of the brothers, who wore numbers 16 and 17 for Dacula’s varsity soccer team last year, mean the northeast Gwinnett County school has lost three students in the last week-and-a-half.
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Jared Brown, a senior, was pronounced dead shortly after the crash on Ga. 316, during which his Honda Accord collided with a PT Cruiser while attempting to turn left onto Harbins Road. His 15-year-old brother, Jaison, a junior, was initially described as sustaining life-threatening injuries but passed Friday evening, Gwinnett County police spokesman Sgt. Brian Doan said Saturday morning.
Police said the accident investigation is ongoing.
Jaison Brown underwent surgery on Friday and was on a ventilator, but was pronounced dead after showing no brain activity. He was put back on a ventilator to await the arrival of another older brother living in Orlando and so the family could prepare their youngest son’s body to be used for organ donation, according to family pastor Kevin Harris of the Lawrenceville Church of God.
Hundreds of Dacula students and friends had visited Gwinnett Medical Center hoping for Jaison Brown’s survival.
The family issued a statement Saturday saying the boys’ parents “are grateful for all of the prayers and support for their family.… The family has found strength and comfort through the large outpouring of prayers and kindness from the community.”
A GoFundMe account was set up by a Dacula student to aid the family. Family members swept into town after the accident. In addition to the 29-year-old brother from Orlando, the parents have a daughter in fourth grade.
Hundreds of students held a vigil at Dacula High on Friday night. A planned football game against Archer High School was postponed until Saturday evening and fans were urged to wear brown to honor the Brown family, who had moved to the area 10 years ago from New York.
A memorial of flowers and balloons bloomed at the fence to the school’s football field.
Only a few days earlier, Jaison Brown had posted on his Facebook page about a display of handwritten notes, each saying “You are loved,” put up after the Oct. 21 death of a 17-year-old fellow student, who school officials said deliberately hurt herself in the school gym.
“this gave me goosebumps. RIP,” Brown wrote, mentioning the girl’s name along with the hashtag #onefamilyonedacula.
His mom, Merrill Brown, told the AJC that her youngest son was deeply saddened by the quiet girl’s death and that he spoke of how he and others had praised her beautiful artwork.
Other than that, most of Jaison Brown’s recent Facebook postings suggested a life more like what you’d expect from a junior in high school. He noted his battle with pimples. He hoped to get tickets to the new Star Wars movie as an early birthday present. He wrote about focusing on getting good grades — he was stressed over homework — and playing great soccer.
Conditioning workouts for the school team are scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Jared Brown, who towered over his little brother, played midfield. Jaison, half a foot shorter and 35 pounds lighter, played forward.
Jared Brown didn’t have the speed of his younger brother, but compensated for it with precise footwork. He’d study video of pro soccer players, then duplicate their moves during games.
The boys doted on other family members, including a 5-year-old cousin in Florida. They bought him a soccer ball for his last birthday, then researched information on leagues he could join near his home, hoping to spread the joy they had for the game, according to family members.
Jared Brown was looking on to life after high school, hoping to major in engineering. “Got a 1900 on my first SAT!!” he tweeted Oct. 22.
Arrangements were not settled Saturday, but one point was clear, their pastor said: the brothers will be alongside each other during their funeral.