Two victims of Thursday’s Nice, France terror attack are former residents of the Collin County town of Prosper, where neighbors remember them well.
A Prosper prayer vigil is now planned Sunday night for 48-year-old Sean Copeland and his 11-year-old son, Brodie.
“I’m still having a hard time processing because it seems you go on vacation, that’s supposed to be a fun thing,” former next door neighbor Melody Nelson said.
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The victims were vacationing in Europe with other members of their family when the attack occurred. More than 80 people were killed. News of the deaths reached Prosper hours later.
“It was a devastating feeling. It took a while to sink in,” said Jason Dixon, a Prosper City Councilman.
Dixon said he served as a youth sports coach with Sean Copeland.
“Sean always had a smile on his face. He had a bubbly personality, always upbeat,” Dixon said.
People who knew young Brodie Copeland describe him much the same way.
His former elementary school art teacher Trina Harlow said Brodie was a child she could never forget.
“He walked in a room and the room just glowed,” Harlow said. “He was so inquisitive, never complained, never said an unkind word to anybody.
The Copelands lived in Prosper before moving to the Austin-area two years ago.
“They’re the kind of people you want to live next to,” Nelson said. “They’re just kind, generous, sweet people.”
Nelson said Brodie was always kind to her younger children.
“So, I think if we could learn something from Brodie, it might be if we were just a little bit kinder to everyone, it might be a better place to live,” Nelson said.
Teacher Trina Harlow said she hopes the boy’s loving spirit inspires others.
“The world needs more of that right now. The world would change drastically and quickly. And that’s the message we’ve got to get out and to me that’s the Brodie message,” Harlow said.
"As a teacher, we focus – especially with kids in elementary – on kindness and compassion and caring about one another, and Brodie exemplified that every day, in everything he did," said Folsom Elementary School first grade teacher JoEllen Lundquest.
The prayer vigil is set for 8 p.m. Sunday at Frontier Park in Prosper.
Sean was a University of North Texas graduate. UNT President Neal Smatresk posted a message on Twitter Friday.
Through a spokesperson, Copeland relatives issued the following statement:
Last night we watched the horrific event in Nice, France, where our beloved family members Sean, Kim, Austin, Maegan and Brodie were vacationing. Our worst fears were realized as we soon thereafter learned that we had lost Sean and Brodie in the attack. Our lives, along with so many others' in France, have been changed forever. The overwhelming support we have received from friends and strangers has been comforting, and we deeply appreciate your condolences and prayers. Our hearts go out to all of those in France and elsewhere who have loved ones lost or injured in this event, and we pray for each of you. We will not be offering any further public comment at this time, and we hope that you understand and will respect our privacy.