Mourners remember boys who drowned
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent July 3, 2014 3:35PM
| Karen Caffarini~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 4, 2014 2:02AM
GARY — Brothers Donel and Terrion Smith wore white suits and were surrounded by mementos of their short lives — a small basketball and hoop for Donel, a wrestling belt for Terrion and floral arrangements made to look like basketballs for both — as a steady stream of mourners paid their last respects Thursday during a visitation service.
The two boys drowned June 14 in a water-filled pit in the 4000 block of Missouri Street in Hobart while playing with a group of others.
Donel was 9 and Terrion was 8.
Family, friends of family, classmates and their parents, and strangers who only knew of the boys by reading about their deaths, mourned their loss and expressed grief at the Manuel Memorial Funeral Home.
Keisha Clinton of Gary was brought to tears at the sight of the two boys she never knew.
“I walked in and just broke. I don’t even know the boys, but I can’t stop crying,” Clinton said as she wiped away tears.
“I can’t imagine what agony the family is going through,” added Clinton, who said she has a 2-year-old son.
Seven-year-old John Macklin came with his mom, Chenita Lee, to say goodbye to his classmate Terrion.
“I’m going to miss him,” John said as he left the funeral home.
Maizie Faust of Gary said her heart goes out to the whole family, but especially to their mother, Tatiana Smith.
“To have lost two sons at the same time, that’s so sad,” Faust said.
Lela Hobbs of Gary said she’s the cousin of the boys’ paternal grandmother, Delores Smith.
“They looked just like her,” Hobbs said.
Funeral services begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 2307 Rhode Island St., Gary, where Pastor Stilman Murph will give the eulogy and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson will speak.
Bishop Normal Hairston II said he’s officiating at the service Saturday. He came to pay his respects to the two brothers Friday.
A number of local law enforcement agencies have committed to attend and will serve as escorts in the funeral processional in support of the Smith family.
Burial will be in Illinois.
According to Hobart police, two police officers had to swim to depths of 12 to 20 feet to recover Terrion and Donel from the water-filled pit on June 14.
The brothers were with a group of children when Terrion began to panic in the water and Donel tried to help him but then began to panic himself, according to the police report.
The report said the pit had a short ledge and sharp dropoff and was deeper than it looked.