'They loved this place': Hundreds attend high school vigil for Moorhead brothers

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Hundreds of shocked mourners were joined in grief at a Moorhead high school Tuesday night as they paid tribute to two brothers killed in a road accident.

Park Christian School students Zach Kvalvog, 18, and Connor Kvalvog, 14, died after the pickup they were in overturned on Interstate 94 near Fergus Falls Tuesday morning, as they traveled to a basketball camp in Wisconsin.

The crash left two other students injured, Jimmy Schwandt, a 17-year-old from Moorhead, and 18-year-old Jimmy Morton, who had transferred to Park Christian from Jackson, Mississippi.

A vigil was held at the school Tuesday night, and was attended by hundreds of the boys' fellow students, their teachers and members of the community.

Too devastated to attend were the boys' parents, Ray and Kathie Kvalvog, who sent their local pastor to speak on their behalf from the basketball court where they had spent so much of their time, the Fargo Forum reports.

"Kathie wanted me to tell you that they loved going to school and that they loved this place," Rev. Dale Wolf told the 400-strong crowd in the gym. "They are grieving as you, well, you probably can’t imagine. In my ministry, I’ve never quite seen anybody go through anything quite like this, to lose their only sons."

According to the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Morton is in a critical condition in Sanford Medical Center in Fargo. He is being monitored on a ventilator, but is not thought to have life-threatening injuries.

Morton's mother said that the impact of the crash caused her son to be thrown from the vehicle. Schwandt's injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

'We're a family here'

The pair were avid basketball players, with Zach having been the Park Christian Falcons' starting point guard since he was a freshman – leading his team to state in his sophomore year – as well as being the school's starting quarterback.

And Valley News Live reports Connor was following in his footsteps, telling Falcons head coach Josh Lee he wanted to steal his big brother's spot at point guard, with stories shared during the vigil of how the two worked together and motivated each other.

"Half way through last year we promoted Connor from just a JV player to being able to sit on our varsity bench," Lee told the TV station. "I've never seen him smile so big."

The brothers' fellow Falcons have been left devastated by the loss of their teammates.

"I didn't want to believe it. I said that's not true, that's not happening," fellow player Hunter Nickel told KVRR, before describing the response of the community to their deaths.

"This is what this school is for. We're a family here, we're not big, we're not small," he said. "We're just together, the whole way through."

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