'No matter where you go, they'll be in your heart always'
EUGENE, Ore. -- One year has passed since a tragic accident on the Oregon coast took the lives of two South Eugene High School seniors.
Connor Ausland and Jack Harnsongkram were well-respected seniors on a weekend retreat with Mr. Axemen - a group of seniors elected by their peers.
On Sunday, friends gathered at South Eugene High School to remember their friends.
"I know they both would have loved prom and of course graduation would have been a big moment in their lives. That definitely hurts me inside to know that they never got to experience that," said friend Jackson Barr.
Ausland was remembered as a basketball star, but above all, a role model.
"He was really a leadership figure to me. I played sports with him for years since grade school," said Ausland's friend Zac Neel. "I always looked up to him. He was always that person I wanted to be."
Harnsongkram was known for his infectious smile and positive outlook on life.
"It's hard not to think of him without a huge smile on his face. He was amazingly happy and energetic and really supportive of everyone around him," said Sam Klonoski, advisor for Mr. Axemen.
"He always had his signature smile on his face that could brighten up no matter what room he was," said Amos Lachman.
Friends say this tragedy brought the community together.
"Their loss was incredibly hard for everybody, but the love and positivity that came about after it helped everybody through it," said Amos Lachman. "I don't think everybody could have gone through these events without the amazing community of South Eugene."
Ben Howorth was friends with Ausland since playing basketball with him as four-year-olds. They played basketball together when Howorth's father coached the team.
"I was the coach's son but he was still kind of the favorite and everyone on the team looked up to him. He was the big kid. And I think things like that, how everyone respected him," said Howorth.
Howorth says he hopes to come back to South Eugene High School every year to remember his friend.
"My whole childhood is with Conner and all the other kids that grew up here and I'm sure they remember him too," he said.