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Plaque unveiled at Westfield park as tribute to teens who died in plane crash

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — A grieving mother and father were joined by dozens of loved ones, friends and teammates to unveil a memorial for two teenage brothers who were killed in a plane crash.

Liam Kelly, 17, and his brother Reece, 15, were killed almost 9 months ago.

The event happened one weeks after Liam should have been walking across the stage to pick up his diploma from Westfield High School and about two weeks from when he was due to report to the Air Force Academy.

“Love your children as if it’s the last day you will ever hold them,” said their mother Kesha Kelly, overcome with emotion. “Love and support one another as you have loved and supported us.”

It’s love and support that have kept Kesha and her husband Patrick going through 9 months of very dark days.

Their only two children were taken in an instant.

“It means the world to us to have all of our support here,” Kesha said.

Liam was the responsible one, wise and mature beyond his years. Reece was the jokester with a huge heart.

Both loved to run and were cross-country runners at Westfield High School.

“Two peas in a pod and always felt incredibly blessed to be their parents,” Kesha said. “I honestly was afraid something bad was going to happen because it was too perfect. And something bad happened.”

That day was Sept. 20, 2020.

The place was the Glenndale Airport outside Kokomo.

Liam had volunteered at a charity event for the last couple years and was doing so for a third time as part of his community service requirement with the National Honors Society. This was Reece’s first time.

They were just supposed to help people get on and off a small plane. But because of the pandemic there was such a small crowd that Sunday morning they went up. The pilot, Jerral Long, 63, of Kokomo, controlling the plane they were in crashed misjudged power lines and crashed.

Long and the boys died.

Another teen survived.

“Every day is bad, some days are worse. But when we have the outpouring of love, it keeps us upright and breathing,” Kesha said.

Thursday there was an outpouring of that love, organized by a teammate named Kyler Koning who wanted a permanent reminder at MacGregor Park. The parents pulled their racing jerseys off to unveil a bronze plaque at the place where Liam and Reece used to come and run every day along with the rest of the Westfield cross country team.

The grassy spot where it’s located is the place where the team warms up and cools down.

In other words, it’s a place that’s just about perfect, where Liam and Reece will never be forgotten and where new people who come to the park will learn their names and their story.

The effort was organized by Kyler’s father Brian Koning, a neighbor and friend to the Kellys as well as a cross country parent.

“We needed to have something where when people came to the park and the picnic area and the shelter area, they could actually read about these boys and get an idea of what great young men they were,” Brian Koning said.

“It means that their legacy will go on and people won’t forget about them,” said Kesha Kelly.

In a life dominated by bad days and even worse days, Thursday is something else entirely.

“Today is a good day,” Kesha said. “Anything that keeps their memory alive is what brings us happiness.”

There’s another good day for the Kellys ahead.

She and Patrick started a memorial scholarship fund. Their goal of two $2,500 scholarships turned into nine awards to Westfield runners this year.

On June 19, there’s the Fly High Memorial Jeep Ride and 5K Fun Run at Monon Trail Elementary School, 19400 Tomlinson Road, to benefit the Liam & Reece Kelly Memorial Scholarship.

The fun run begins at 8 a.m. June 19. The Jeep Ride will begin at 10 a.m. and go past seven of the boys’ favorite locations in Hamilton County.

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