JACKSON, Mich. —
It's been a long emotional few days for the Michigan Center community after three men - Dawson Brown, Richie Mays, Jr. and Kole Sova - were found dead at a campground where they were staying for the Faster Horses.
The community came out Monday in a show of support.
"Just shock," said Michigan Center High School teacher and coach Nic Cass. "You just feel so bad for everyone. The family, the parents. It's just terrible."
Roger Hayward, who was friends and played football with the men, said he didn't believe it.
"I was in complete shock. I dropped everything I had and found a ride to the hospital without anything and just I had to go try to see if I could do something about it," Hayward said.
That was echoed by Keicher Elementary School Principal Lisa Haynes, who taught them when they were in middle school.
“It was a shock. Disbelief. Like, 'No what? Who was it?' And, it was just trying to comprehend how something like this could happen.”
Many came to rally around grieving families and friends.
Mays' sister Ryli reflected on his life.
“What memories don’t I have of my brother?" Mays said. "He just would go out of his way for anyone. He was a very kind-hearted person. Hard-working. He went to work almost every day throughout the pandemic. He just this is really amazing guy. He was funny. He could make anyone laugh. He is maybe sometimes stingy but, I think that was his class would just say he was a kind-hearted soul and would help them no matter what. He was always there for them always asking if they were okay just being a protector.”
Many shared memories of watching them grow from boys into men before their lives were cut short.
“A lot of them revolved around sports because the boys were always so athletic," Haynes said. "So we have a lot of good times, going places and going to basketball tournaments and getting to see them in that environment. Just being silly and goofy. The constant with all of them is their smile. They were all huge and they brighten up a room just by sheer presence of being there.”
Michigan Center School District Superintendent Brady Cook was their junior high school principal. He said, "They lived amazing lives."
"The unlimited potential for all of them and the things they were going to do," Cook said. "We were joking today that you know, Dawson was going to run this business and be a multi-millionaire and run a franchise. Cole was probably going to be president. He was that kind of sharp. Ritchie was going to take over the stock market by 25 and live on a yacht. These guys were going to rule the world. That’s just who they were.”
The outpouring of love, support and grief didn't go unnoticed.
“I just know how loved he was," Mays said. "My family and I were just so eternally grateful for everything everyone has done and we really appreciate it.”
“The best thing we can do for their legacy is to tell everybody how they rolled. How they treated other people. How they behaved on fields on courts and how everybody looked up to them… adults, myself we looked up to them and that's how you build a legacy. That's why they will be remembered in the way they are," Cook said.
Faster Horses issued a statement on social media Monday morning extending their condolences.
A visitation will take place Wednesday for friends at Michigan Center High School.
Kurtis Stitt and Rayfield Johnson remain in critical condition and are being treated for acute carbon monoxide poisoning.
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