Ben Davis HS JROTC program face 3 tragedies in less than 7 months

The death of 18-year-old Brandon Gross marks the third in less than seven months for the JROTC program at Ben Davis High School. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The death of 18-year-old Brandon Gross marks the third in less than seven months for the JROTC program at Ben Davis High School.

He was one of two people killed in a rollover crash on the interstate Tuesday night.

Cadets told 24-Hour News 8 words cannot describe the emotional pain they are going through right now. They lost two cadets last year to a crash and a shooting and now they’re dealing with yet another tragedy.

Hunter Mills and Johnny Langley woke up this morning to find a piece of their family missing.

“The drill team, we’re one big family and that’s what I tell them all the time,” said Hunter Mills, senior. “We argue, we fight like other students, but at the end of the day we’re family. Losing Brandon is like losing a member of the family.”

Mills and Langley both knew 18-year-old Brandon Gross. They were in JROTC together at Ben Davis High School.

“He was extremely dedicated. I mean, everything he did, he did it 100 percent, 110 percent. He had a lot of heart,” said Johnny Langley, senior.

Langley described Gross as a funny guy, someone who could make you laugh when you’re having a rough day. Mills said he and Gross shared that laugh just yesterday at school.

“We were actually talking about my shirt that I’m wearing because I got it at Comic Con over the weekend,” said Mills. “He’s a Big Archer fan and he was like I approve of this shirt. We were laughing about it and everything and I said thanks man we’ll have to hang out sometime.”

But that day will never come and it’s a reminder for Mills and Langley about how fragile life can be. The two lost another friend last October to a crash, 18-year-old Frank Wilson was also part of JROTC.

“I know Langley got closer to Frank when they went to national guard basic training,” said Mills. “I still read my letter from Frank almost every week because I still miss him a lot.”

About a month later, the program experienced another tragedy with the death of 16-year-old Juan Romero Sanchez. The cadet was shot and killed in what police are calling a robbery.

“It’s just so much loss,” said Langley. “I think even with all this loss we can still carry on their legacies.”

Some students are now in process of making bracelets to honor the memory of Brandon Gross.

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