An overflow crowd of about 1,400 mostly teenage mourners packed St. Bonaventure Catholic Church on Saturday for the joint funerals of two best friends killed in a car accident last week.
Kevin O'Connell and Ian Guckian, both 18, were in a 2009 Honda Civic owned by Guckian's parents when police say the driver apparently lost control on Southwest 172nd Avenue near Miramar Parkway and crashed at about 2 a.m. Tuesday.
O'Connell died at the crash site, and Guckian was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Teenage pallbearers accompanied the caskets of the recent high school graduates.
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Some roller hockey teammates wore their Archbishop McCarthy High School Mustangs jerseys in honor of Guckian. The St. Bonaventure Teen Choir, of which O'Connell was a member, sang with an occasional trembling voice.
O'Connell may not have been in his customary spot in the front row, third from the left, but his voice was not missing from the Mass. Sporadic gasps and sobs could be heard from the congregation as his recorded renditions of "Bless the Broken Road," "Nothing Without You" and "Hallelujah" at the end of the Mass were played.
Even the voice of Father Ed Prendergast, who presided over the Mass, was seized with emotion momentarily as he recounted personal memories of O'Connell and Guckian. O'Connell was in the choir, and Guckian was an altar server at Sunday services.
"[Kevin's] voice brought such joy and hope to so many," Prendergast said. He added, "Ian was one of our altar servers who served so faithfully even though he wasn't scheduled he would always pop in to ask, 'Father, do you need help?'"
Guckian's brother Chris got a rumble of laughter from attendees when he remembered the joy he felt at first learning he had a baby brother who could get him out of playing Barbie dolls with their sister.
Chris got another laugh when he explained how Ian's teachers loved him even though "he didn't do any schoolwork." He recounted how Kevin came into Ian's life, affectionately referring to his brother's new best friend as a "goofball."
But Chris Guckian ended with a lip-pursing profession of pride and love for a kid brother who "brought incredible joy to my life."
No remembrance of Kevin O'Connell was complete without a mention of his unique and infectious laugh that brightened any room he entered or event he attended. "We'll all miss his great smile and goofy laugh," said his uncle, Dennis Schreiber. "My girls will miss his bear hugs. We'll all miss his amazing sense of humor, the key word being 'amazing' – his favorite word."
Guckian graduated earlier this year from Cypress Bay High School in Weston, and O'Connell graduated from Everglades High School in Miramar. Both previously attended Archbishop McCarthy High in Southwest Ranches.
A makeshift memorial of candles, flowers, photos and stuffed animals continues to grow at the scene of the crash on the 3300 block of Southwest 172nd Avenue.
According to Miramar police, the Honda crossed an elevated swale, rolled and went airborne. The car catapulted past a tree and struck parts of two houses before coming to rest on Southwest 171st Terrace in the Nautica Community.