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Students Release Balloons to Remember Classmate | News

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Students Release Balloons to Remember Classmate

PAHRUMP, Nev. -- Shock and sadness are still settling in the community of Pahrump after three young boys and their babysitter were killed in a house fire on Wednesday.

The investigation into the cause is still on-going, and so is the grieving process for people that knew the victims.

Five-year-old Brandon Smith was among those killed in the fire. He was a kindergartner at Mt. Charleston Elementary School. Friday, his classmates taught the lesson that tragedy takes a toll no matter what age. Mrs. Englund's class bears a heavy burden in the loss of their classmate.

"The children have had a really hard time with this," said school counselor Pam Everitt.

Marcie Moncrief's son was one of Brandon's best friends.

"For my son, it was very hard to understand that Brandon is not here anymore. He never got to say goodbye," she said.

The Pahrump community is mourning the loss of Brandon and his two brothers, 4-year-old Zachary Broadhead and 1-year-old Elliot Broadhead. Their mother's roommate, 24-year-old Crystal Smiley also died.

"As a mother and a grandmother, I can't even comprehend the sorrow," said Everitt.

Investigators continue to focus on the cause of the fire, just two days after flames engulfed the home Wednesday morning. Parents of the boys fight hard to hold back the tears as Brandon's classmates stand at the spot the 5-year-old entered Mt. Charleston elementary each school day.

"They're always taught that kids are sent to heaven because they're innocent and what a better way than balloons," said parent Mary Upah.

On this afternoon, Brandon's classmates release balloons into the air -- a way to release their grief and to give their friend a special message.

"Somebody had said its not fair, that we shouldn't do this, that it is unfair to teach the children that he gets letters in heaven through a balloon. But I believe that he will," said Moncrief.

Parents say they are proposing to name a nearby park after Brandon in his honor. There will also be a carwash Saturday morning in Pahrump to help the family with funeral costs.