Community mourns loss of teens
PLYMOUTH — It was standing room only Monday evening at Plymouth Wesleyan Church, where it was estimated that well over a thousand people showed up to honor the memory of Cody Poczik and Hunter Brandt, two 16-year-olds who passed away June 28 in a tragic car accident. People filled the main sanctuary, lined the halls outside, and filled another separate room where there was a video feed of the service.
“This is the largest group I’ve ever seen for a funeral before,” said Pastor Ollie Dongell to the audience. “This day will pass, but the Pocziks and the Brandts will never forget how many people were here today.”
Assistant pastor Ed Friberg shared some stories about the teens, saying, “I want to talk about them separately, but it’s hard because they did so much together.”
Cody and Hunter’s close friendship was spoken of again and again by everyone in attendance, and emphasized by comments from Hunter’s twin sister, Emmelyn.
“On June 28, at 8:54 p.m., I didn’t lose one brother, but two,” said Emmelyn. “Cody and Hunter held a very special place in my heart and they will always be with me. Hunter will always be my twin brother, and he will always have half of my heart. I can’t wait to walk with him in heaven someday.”
Friberg read verses that Hunter’s family had found written on a paper in his Bible: 1 Corinthians 13, sometimes referred to as “the love chapter.” Part of the chapter reads: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”
A song titled, “Love My Life” was played as the families of the two boys came together for a group hug.
Lisa Poczik, Cody’s mother, shared some encouragement with teens in the audience struggling with the loss of their friends.
“I don’t want to say the words, ‘Cody was,’ so I will say ‘Cody is,’” began Poczik. “We were so lucky to have the memories that we do have. Even though (Cody) was only 16, think of all the memories you have with him. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are and will be hard, but keep each other close.”
The two fathers, Ian Brandt and Vince Poczik, also took a few minutes to speak about the boys.
“(Cody and Hunter) lived hard, and they loved hard,” said Brandt.
Speaking as if to his son, Brandt continued, “You taught me more about life than I ever could have imagined. Even today you continue to teach me that God will pull you through.”
Following the close of the service, friends and family were asked to stay and sign Cody and Hunter’s coffins with available markers. They also signed Hunter’s car, which was parked inside the church.
Cody’s soccer teammates gathered off to the side of his coffin after signing it, and seemed to be sticking close to each other for comfort.
“We only met him less than six months ago,” said one of Cody’s former teammates, Adam Coyne, “But in that time you could tell so much about him.”
“Whenever you were with him, you always came out smiling,” said another teammate, Josh McPherren. “He was a wonderful kid. He changed all of our lives.”
“He showed a lot of passion on the field, when we were down he brought us up,” added Arik Shanklin. “He was definitely the heart of the team.”
Miranda Hacha, a sophomore at Plymouth High School paused by Hunter’s coffin to scribble a note for her former classmate.
“I just said that we will all miss him and we all love him,” explained Hacha, smiling.