BRUNSWICK, Ohio -- Saying goodbye to a loved one is never easy but that farewell is especially difficult when the deceased is a 17-year-old high school stand out.
Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m., thousands of mourners filled St. Ambrose Catholic Church on Pearl Road in Brunswick for Blake Bartchak’s funeral.
The teenager was killed with three friends in a terrible car crash last weekend.
During the funeral mass officiated by Father Bob Stec, Blake was remembered as an outgoing and fun loving young man.
Madison Smith said, “What I’ll probably miss the most is just that he was the go-to guy. He always had something to say positive.”
“His laugh,” added Stephanie Evensen. “He had that distinct laugh.”
As the church bells tolled outside the church, inside the crowd sang Amazing Grace and wiped away the tears.
The loss has been devastating for Blake’s older brother Brent.
“I did not want to wake up this morning,” said Brent Bartchak. “I didn’t want to wake up.”
After the funeral service, school buses filled to capacity with students, and hundreds of other vehicles processed to Resurrection Cemetery, where Blake was interred side-by-side with his friend, Jeff Chaya.
Chaya lost his life in the same car crash, and his funeral service was held at 9 a.m. Thursday morning.
Friends say Jeff was a people person and had a huge heart.
“He tried his best at everything. Even if he didn’t think he was that good, he had the heart,” said junior Stephanie Evensen.
“(Jeff) was free spirited. A wonderful young man,” said Michele Harbaugh, of Brunswick.
The Brunswick Blue Devils football team also gave Blake a touching and noteworthy send off. They escorted his casket, and ran through a large sign and football “tunnel,” the same way Blake would’ve have entered the field this coming school year for his senior football season.
Jeff and Blake were two of the four students killed in a weekend crash on Boston Road in Columbia Township, just hours before graduation Saturday. Also killed were Lexi Poerner, 16, and Kevin Fox, 18.
Calling hours for Poerner were held at the Jardine Funeral Home at 15822 Pearl Road in Cleveland. Lexi’s funeral occurs tomorrow with a 9:30 a.m. mass at Saint Ambrose Catholic Church followed by internment at Resurrection Cemetery in Valley City.
A wake will be held for Kevin Fox from 2-8 p.m. on Friday inside The Corner Stone Chapel located at 3939 Granger Road in Medina. A funeral service for Fox is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the same location.
The only teen to survive the tragic accident early Sunday morning on Boston Road in Columbia Township is home with her family. Julia Romito, 17, is recovering from a concussion, a few chipped teeth, some scrapes, bruises and a broken pinkie finger.
A memorial fund for each of the four teens has been established, and donations can be made at any First Merit Bank in lieu of flowers.