Martinez community helps support family who lost two sons in Bakersfield crash

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Junior high students in Martinez are surrounding the Cooper family with love. On Wednesday, July 11, brothers Hodari and Hakim Cooper both died in car crash in Bakersfield.

"Your strength. You guys are sending it straight to me. I feel every last one of you and I thank you out of the bottom of my heart," said the boy's mother as she addressed the crowd of students and their families.

Students who attended Martinez Junior High School with 13-year-old Hakim planned the candlelight vigil.

"His personality was huge. He had an impact on people that made them feel happy," said Camille Ramirez, a friend of Hakim's who spoke.

"There were days when we would have just endless talks about just what we want to be when we grow up," said Ramirez.

"Hakim was a smart, brilliant young man and he could've been a lot, could've been a lot," said his older brother, Khalil Branch.

Hakim and 20-year-old Hodari were two of eight siblings.

"Dari was a goofy, goofy guy, but a pretty boy at the same time," said Branch. He said Hakim looked up to Hodari. "He loved following Dari in his footsteps. Anything he wore he tried to, 'Let me put on your shoes bro. Can I put on your shoes?'"

School staff stepped in to help organize the vigil.

Nonprofit Her Smile also helped coordinate the vigil. It was founded by a Martinez mother who lost her daughter in 2014.

"What we do is try to do is help them remember how they can honor the life of that student and they can do that by being kind, being courageous, and being there for each other," said CJ Cammack, Martinez Unified School District Superintendent.

The community continues to support the Cooper family in several ways. A memorial fund has been established on Go Fund Me and a Meal Train was created to help feed the family during their time of mourning.
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