Hot air balloons blast flame to illuminate Clonts Field as Lincoln County residents gathered together in memory of Hunter Thorp, Brayden Hood and Mario Montalvo. Photo by Dan Fox

On Aug. 15 the Lincoln County community came together to support the families of two teenagers that were lost in a car accident earlier that week – Brayden Hood (16) and Mario Montalvo (16). 

At 7 p.m., family and friends of the boys met at Clont’s Field for a candlelight vigil and balloon glow. The event also supported the loved ones of another local teen that had been lost to an automobile accident in June: Hunter Thorp. 

Hot air balloons covered the football field – the community’s way of lifting up the boys spirits one last time. There was an overwhelming attendance, with hundreds of people supporting the families during this heartbreaking time. Those in attendance were classmates, teachers and school officials. Scattered across the field were people supporting green, blue and navy shirts each color meant to represent one of the boys lost over the summer. The event was opened with a prayer by Pastor Richie Rhea of Troy Baptist Church. Leading in to the ceremony each family chose someone to speak about the boys. 

Cole Danz spoke on behalf of Hunter Thorp’s family. His speech included unique quirks about Hunter, like his favorite color and the hobbies he enjoyed. 

“Hunter enjoyed spending a lot of time with his family and friends during his downtime and he loved to make people laugh and smile,” Danz said. 

Following Danz’ speech was a moment of silence for his friend.

“And for everyone leaving here tonight please remember to wear your seatbelts, thank you all for coming out and supporting these boys,” Danz said.


Celia Martinez and Saraya Sanders spoke on behalf of Mario Montalvo. Prior to the ceremony, pins made up of three ribbons   were given out, Martinez mentioned the importance of the color of the ribbons explaining that the blue was Montalvo’s favorite color. 

Martinez was close with Montalvo, and spoke about his interest and life outside of school before ending with a quote. 

“Love always and always loved,” Martinez said. 

Carter Thompson spoke on behalf of his brother Brayden Hood. He opened with a little bit about Hood and his involvement with the Troy Buchanan High School Show Choir. Knowing how hard loss can be, Thompson ended by stating that he is willing to help anyone through this tough time. 

“It is hard enough to go through, so let’s make it through together,” Thompson said. 

Following the speeches, there was a unity lighting of the candles and a final moment of silence for all three boys. Then all in attendance took a final lap around the track at Clont’s Field on behalf of the teens. 

Troy Buchanan High School’s Show Choir sang for the crowd on in memory of all the boys while the hot air balloons illuminated the field with bursts of fire. 

As the event came to a close the community grew closer, and one of the speakers closed it with a quote: 

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members” - Coretta Scott King. 

Each of the families of the boys has a “GoFundMe” account set up to benefit the families of the boys to help cover the cost of medical bills and funeral arrangements. 

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