Memorial Service for the two Lakewood Ranch High students who died in an accident held near the high school.
Dan Powers’ voice quivered as he spoke to a sea of students dressed in Hawaiian shirts Sept. 21 at a spot adjacent to Lakewood Ranch High School.
“I want you all to remember Chase and Matthew every time you see a Hawaiian shirt like I do,” Powers said at a memorial to honor his son, Matthew, and fellow student Chase Coyner, who died in a two-car crash Sept. 15 at the intersection of State Road 64 and Pope Road. “I know we’re sad. I know. But as it goes, remember the good things about them.”
Matthew Powers, a 15-year-old sophomore and a member of the school’s marching and jazz bands, had a ritual of wearing a Hawaiian shirt to school each Friday.
Dan Powers, his wife, Rebecca, their 13-year-old son, Robert, and 11-year-old daughter, Katie, joined Lakewood Ranch High students at the memorial.
The students wrote notes to Coyner and Powers and tied them to two trees.
After the students finished tying notes to the trees, they talked among themselves about their recollections of the two students.
“Chase always would make jokes to make people laugh if he knew they were sad,” said sophomore Greyson Bouchard. “I wrote that in my note to him.”
Sophomore Laura Dunzik knew Matthew Powers from her algebra class.
“We bonded over Disney movies,” Dunzik said. “He didn’t make me hate going to algebra class anymore. I looked forward to it because he would be there.”
Many of Powers’ bandmates said he always knew what to say to make them laugh.
Fellow sophomore band member Charis Duffy said Matthew Powers had a positive impact on the band as a whole.
“Matt always knew how to cheer people up,” Duffy said.
The students were led in prayer before the Powers family released balloons to end the memorial.
“Oh, he would have gotten a kick out of this,” said Rebecca Powers. “This is what helps us get through this tough time.”
Before Robert Powers left, he collected the many notes about his brother and headed home to read them.
Dressed as many of the students, he wore one of his brother’s Hawaiian shirts.