BELTON, Mo. — Friends, family and community members gathered Sunday to celebrate the lives of two best friends at Belton Memorial Park.
Cody Langer and Jacob Zimmer, both 16, were on their way to meet some friends Friday night when they were hit and killed while walking along Peculiar Drive.
The boys’ friends and several parents planned a candlelight vigil so the community could grieve together.
One by one, those who knew Langer and Zimmer best shared their favorite memories.
"I just want to say, I never thought somebody could influence you so much in so short of an amount of time," one friend, Chance Shoemaker, said through tears.
Langer's oldest sister, Marlonna Langer, described her brother as her "everything."
"It's important to love the ones that you have now because you never know when you're going to lose them," she said.
Family members shared that Langer's father died just two months ago, making the teen's loss even more painful.
"He loved a lot. He loved his family....he's going to be missed a lot," Angela Reed, Langer's aunt, said.
Those who spoke Sunday said both Langer and Zimmer frequently stayed with friends or other trusted adults when things became difficult at home.
"He just wanted to be a normal teenager. He had to overcome a lot," said Tina Coley, Zimmer's neighbor.
Both boys lived with her for several months when they had nowhere else to go.
"I thought I was going to watch them grow up and graduate high school and have kids," Coley said. "They touched a lot of lives. Anyone who knew them knew that they were amazing kids."
Sadly, for many of the teens in the crowd, loss was all too familiar. Belton High School Principal Phil Clark said two other students have died this year, including a boy who was laid to rest on Saturday.
"One is too many, and we're struggling right now with several," he said.
Clark and several other adults who spoke reminded students to reach out to them if they ever need to talk. Counselors were available Monday morning for Belton High School students.