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Family members remember the life of 16-year-old teen killed in crash

Ethan Sandell
Posted at 6:39 PM, Apr 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-30 19:41:36-04

GATESVILLE, TX  — Blayne McGhee will miss Ethan Sandell's smile the most.

McGhee describes her 16-year-old cousin as a beacon of light, who shared his happiness with others.

"He didn't meet a stranger," McGhee said. "He's the kid that you want to be around, that you were proud to call your friend, your son, your cousin."

Ethan and his friend, Kyle Tennison, were killed after crashing into a tree early Saturday morning. The Texas Department of Public Safety said the accident happened just after 1 a.m. on Cedar Ridge Road, north of Old Osage Road in Coryell County.

Ethan and Kyle's friends set up a memorial at the scene of the accident. People have been showing up at the memorial to pay their respects.

McGhee said her family was touched by the actions of their community.

"They cut the tree down that they hit and made a cross out of it," McGhee said. "It takes a special kind of heart to do something like that, not just for themselves, but for us."

Flowers and messages of love show that Ethan's friends knew his heart like McGhee did.

"The sweetness, him being kind, he was just a loving kid," McGhee said.

Ethan leaves behind his parents, Dee and Brandon Sandell, and his older brother, Christopher.

In a photo McGhee shared with Central Texas News Now, Christopher is seen sitting beside Ethan and Kyle's memorial, overcome with pain.

"It feels unfair. You feel angry, you feel all these different emotions and everything and all you can do is cry," McGhee said. "You can just cry and cry until you feel like you can't cry anymore, then you cry again. It's a cycle. You cry and then you be strong."

McGhee said her family is extremely close and have been with each other since the accident.

"It was their time," McGhee said. "They left to be with the Lord. I can't think of a better place for them to be, other than here with us."

She said they're holding on to one another, inspired by Ethan's positive attitude to keep going.

"It's hard, but we've got each other's backs," McGhee said. "That's what's beautiful about our family."

Since the accident, the community has come together to raise more than $10,000 to cover Ethan's funeral costs.

"No one should have to bury their kid but no one should have to worry about that financial burden of having to do it," McGhee said. "The Sandells don't have to worry about that and it's because of Gatesville."

McGhee said the entire community is invited to celebrate Ethan's life.

Visitation will be held at Scott's Funeral Home on May 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. His funeral service will be held at Coryell Community Church on May 2 at 3 p.m.

Gatesville ISD will hold early dismissal at 2 p.m. on May 2 so they can attend the funeral.

Ethan will be laid to rest at Mound Cemetery.