Attack in Nice: Texas father and son, 11, among victims

Story highlights

  • Sean Copeland, 51, and his son Brodie, 11, were from the Austin area
  • They were in France celebrating a relative's birthday

(CNN)The Copeland family vacation started with the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, moved to the marvels of Barcelona and ended tragically as the Bastille Day fireworks faded over Nice, France.

Sean Copeland, 51, and his 11-year-old son Brodie were among the more than 80 people killed Thursday when a truck zig-zagged through a screaming crowd for more than a mile along the Promenade des Anglais, according to a family representative.
    They had traveled from the Austin, Texas, area with Copeland's wife, Kim, and his two children from a previous marriage --Maegan, 29, and Austin, 22, according to Jess Davis, a family friend.
    The excursion was in part a celebration of Kim's and Austin's birthdays this month.
    "Sean was excited about going on vacation," said Jonathan Paiz, Brodie's baseball coach.

    'Our very own'

    Kim Copeland on Friday posted on social media a black and white portrait of her husband and son on a pitcher's mound.
    More than 5,000 miles from the massacre, Hill Country Baseball remembered Brodie -- "our very own" -- on its Facebook page. In a photo taken hours before he was killed, waves splash over Brodie's back on the rocky shore of the French Riviera.
    "Nobody deserves this type of fate, especially not such a wonderful family," the post said.

    'A bright light'

    Sean Copeland coached youth baseball, and Brodie played in the league.
    Paiz was in New York for a league tournament when a parent traveling with the team informed him of the deaths.
    "It's devastating," he said. "We're all trying to get back to Texas to join the rest of the family."
    In a Twitter post from a family member, Copeland poses on a ballfield with Brodie, who holds a trophy.
    "Brodie was bright light to us," Paiz said. "He was an amazing kid. He was a promising baseball player and the Copelands were very involved in our program... We're all hurting."
    The boy was to start middle school in the fall.
    Brodie was a "happy, 11-year-old boy who was a wonderful student beloved by all, a member of the honor choir, and a very active athlete," Lake Travis school district Superintendent Brad Lancaster said in a statement.
    Brodie aspired to be an actor or a comedian. He liked to shoot short films, complete with special effects, his fifth-grade teacher Coleen Serfoss said. On the last day of school, he led a flash mob for the kindergartners to the tune of Queen's "We will Rock You."
    "At the end of the year, we say goodbye to them and we're wishing them well and looking forward to hearing about their wonderful successes and he was one that I couldn't wait to hear about," Serfoss said.
    "I had told him ... when you get your Academy Award, remember to mention me."

    'A phenomenal person'

    At least 10 children were killed in what French officials are calling a terror attack, and dozens of people remain hospitalized. The attack happened on a night when the seaside promenade was teeming with families and young people. Dolls and toys were strewn about the scene of the attack, according to images posted on social media. A truck hauled away abandoned baby strollers.
    "We are heartbroken and in shock over the loss of Brodie Copeland, an amazing son and brother who lit up our lives, and Sean Copeland, a wonderful husband and father," the family said in a statement. "They are so loved."
    Sean Copeland, who had attended the University of North Texas, was vice president at Lexmark's Kapow Software Division.
    "Sean was not only a terrific leader in the company but a phenomenal person who will be dearly missed," Lexmark spokesman Jerry Grasso said in a statement.
    A Gofundme page for the Copeland family has raised more than $18,000 by midafternoon Friday.

    Accompanying the family home

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that for the second time in nine months, the French flag is being flown over the governor's mansion in remembrance of terror victims.
    "While every heinous attack like this is tragic, this latest one hits close to home," Abbott said.
    Family friend Jason Dixon said the loss has taken time to sink in, according to CNN affiliate KXAN.
    Brodie's "attitude and personality were infectious," he added.
    Aaron Cable, head of player development for Hill Country Baseball, described Brodie as a "one-of-a-kind kid" and Copeland as "one of the greatest dads you could ask for."
    Two of Sean Copeland's brothers will fly to Nice to retrieve the bodies and accompany the family home, according to brother Troy Copeland.