SANDY, Utah -- Two families are remembering a pair of young Sandy teens who died in a car crash on I-15 in Arizona last weekend, as they prepare for the funeral for Carson Koch and Brayden Eaton.
Carson and Brayden, both 17, died while driving home from the Koch family vacation and a week after Brayden’s family was dealt a different devastating blow.
At the Koch home, Carson’s room is filled with his favorite things—The Miami Heat memorabilia, his drum set, and sports pictures and trophies.
Jody Koch, Carson’s mother, said her son loved basketball and baseball. He coached Junior Jazz and served as an umpire.
On top of his neatly-made bed, a teddy bear sits holding a heart that says, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ in swirly, cursive letters.
The family said Brayden, Carson’s longtime friend and girlfriend of 16 months, gave him the bear.
“They were so darling,” Jody said. “They would celebrate [their anniversary] monthly. They loved to celebrate their relationship.”
The Koch’s said Carson always had a smile on his face and loved lifting people up and making them feel good, even if he was having a bad day.
Karen Bowyer, Brayden’s grandmother, said Brayden was always a “bright, smiling girl,” who worked hard at her near-full time job and at keeping up her grades at school.
Last weekend, the family got the call that Brayden and Carson had died when their car ended up off the highway and into a ravine.
Bowyer said both were instantly killed.
Just the week before on March 27, Bowyer said Brayden’s mother passed away.
“I'm still having a hard time believing it,” she said. “Not even finished with one and having the other one.”
She and Jody said Brayden drove down to meet up with the Koch’s as they returned from their week-long vacation in California.
“[Carson's] like, ‘She's just so sad.’” Jody said, of her conversation with her son. “I was like, ‘Why don't we have her come meet us in Las Vegas?’”
Bowyer said she agreed to let Brayden go, to let her have a break from everything weighing on her.
After spending a night in Las Vegas, the teens took off separately from the rest of the Koch family to head back up to Utah.
Now, the family knows just how meaningful their time together would turn out to be.
They talked of how Carson couldn’t wait to jump into the ocean in California—even though it was icy cold. They said he won a basketball after scoring seven 3-pointers in a carnival game, which drew attention and praise from those around them.
“We spent a nice week together as a family,” Carson’s father Chris said.
It’s those moments, the family indicated, that they now find even more special as they remember their son and his girlfriend.
“There was a lot to be proud of,” Jody said, adding, “We're going to miss him.”
The family will hold dual funeral Saturday, April 14. The viewing will take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and the funeral will start at 12 p.m. at the LDS Stake Center at 8485 S 1000 E.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family, and they said they’ve been amazed at the community support they’ve received.