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Forest City honors memory of 8th-grade student who died in swimming accident

His classmates couldn't attend his funeral, so they came together to honor him in a different way.

FOREST CITY, Pa. — When each person in the crowd gathered at Kennedy Park in Forest City and sent a balloon into the sky, they did so in honor of a 14-year-old boy whose life was taken too soon. 

Aaron Winans died in a tragic accident last week. 

He was an eighth-grade student at Forest City Regional Middle School. 

Hundreds of his fellow classmates turned out to support his grieving family, even those who only knew his face from the morning announcements. 

"Every morning, we would see Aaron on the announcements, and he was just a really happy and a really funny kid, and he made us laugh all the time. I feel like the whole school knew him, so it was important we were all here," said Claire Urbas, a Forest City Regional High School junior.

"Because of the circumstances, everything we're going through with COVID, I think it was really important that we all came together collectively as a community and as a school to show our support for Aaron and his family," said Emily Kelleher, a Forest City Regional High School senior.

Aaron passed away last week in an accident in a swimming hole along the D&H trail near Simpson.

But that's not what his family and friends want people to remember about him.

"He was a great classmate of ours. He always made everybody laugh even with his badly timed jokes. He always had us all hyped up for spirit week and everything. We're all gonna miss him. We're all really praying for his family too," said Sydney Hodges, a Forest City eighth-grade student.

"I really want everyone to know that Aaron was truly a friend to everyone. He accepted everyone for who they were," said Dr. Jessica Aquilina, Superintendent of the Forest City Regional School District.

Aaron was the oldest of five children. He was an active Cub Scout and a member of the school band. He wanted to be a surgeon when he grew up.

The crowd fell silent when his family arrived after the private burial, and tears fell as "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" played. 

It seemed fitting that the sky let out a brief period of rain immediately following the emotional ceremony.

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