Student deaths strengthen Southwest High community

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by GARY REAVES / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on April 14, 2010 at 1:15 AM

FORT WORTH — Southwest High School's baseball team took the field Tuesday night, but with sadness.

Their school just lost one of its most popular students, Eric Jon Forrester.

Eric died at John Peter Smith Hospital Tuesday morning. On Monday afternoon, he and his sister walked in on two burglars inside their home.

Eric was shot in the head.

The feeling of loss is all too familiar for the Southwest baseball team. Earlier this year, they lost Ryan Powell after suffering sudden cardiac arrest.

Ryan and Eric had been friends.

Five months after their own son died, Rick and Rose Powell are still supporting his classmates on the baseball diamond.

Since Ryan's death, they say the support they have received from the school community has been invaluable. Now they can relate to what Eric's parents must now be feeling.

"Total hell... plain and simple," Rose Powell said. "Something no parent would ever dream that they have to go through."

Ryan Powell played freshman baseball with Eric Forrester, so the news that he had been gunned down in his own home hit close to home.

Rose works at JPS Hospital, giving her a chance to support Eric's parents. "There's nothing you can say; just be there for them, lots of hugs," she said.

For this entire school community, its been a rough year. Eric is the fourth student to die, and that seems to make the loss more intense.

"It's just hard to imagine that he's not going to be there anymore,' said classmate Joey Vranas. "It's just shocking."

Fort Worth crime scene detectives were still at the Forrester home late Tuesday afternoon looking for clues that will lead them to suspects. They are asking anyone with information about the crime to contact police.

For the Southwest High community, life must go on. From their own tragic experience, the Powell family can offer one assurance to the Forresters: You are not alone.

"They will be there for them," Rick Powell said. "They were always there for us; they're still there for us. They'll be there for Eric, too."

Many Southwest students spent time with grief counselors on Tuesday, and also spent time with one another.

A memorial service is being planned for Wednesday. It will not be open to the media or to the public.

E-mail greaves@wfaa.com

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