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Emotional memorial service at USF for victims of wrong-way crash

6:34 PM, Feb 13, 2014   |    comments
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Tampa, FL -- There was a tremendous outpouring of emotion Thursday afternoon on the USF campus in Tampa.

Students, friends and relatives all gathered in the campus's MLK Plaza to remember the four young men killed in last weekend's fiery crash along I-275.

Those attending also included the President of the University, Judy Genshaft.

Genshaft said as an administrator, this has been a tragic week for the campus. As a mother, she added, she cannot fathom the grief.

"I don't remember a time when so many students have been tragically killed all at once," she said.

The plaza itself was filled with music, flowers and tears. At times it was overwhelming. One of the victim's mothers broke into tears as she thanked the crowd for its support.

Jeremy Yesudas, whose younger brother Dammie was among those lost, described Dammie in glowing terms.

"He was smart, funny. The life of the party," said Jeremy. "He just had a good heart."

"I was initially in shock. Hearing my mother grieve was just the worst feeling the world," said Ghan Illias whose younger brother Jim was killed.

It's been very hard, said Illias, but their family appreciates the outpouring of kind words, prayers, even financial support from the community.

"I lost a brother, but I've gained so many supporters and family members," said Ghan, "It's just been overwhelming with support and love."

While it has been an unbearable week for relatives and friends of the four fraternity brothers killed, it's been a time of reflection and sorrow for the entire student body. The loss of one fellow student is always difficult to comprehend. But four classmates in one tragic event?

"You can definitely tell that the spirit's sort of shifted a little bit as expected," said Nadima Ally.

"It could have been you, it could have been your friend. It could have been anyone from the student body," added Amita Kothari, "So, it's just tragic to see four young lives taken so soon."

Genshaft said all four students will receive their degrees posthumously, during ceremonies at the end of the school year.

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