Overland Park family grieves after son killed by airport sign's collapse


"I love you Luke!!"

That's how Ryan Bresette closed a Facebook post Saturday, a day after his Overland Park family - fresh off a beachfront vacation - experienced the unthinkable when a display board crashed down on them inside Alabama's Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

The crushing weight of the digital sign killed his 10-year-old Luke Bresette and left his wife, Heather, in critical condition at a Birmingham hospital.

"Words cannot describe the pain we feel," Ryan Bresette wrote Saturday on Facebook, urging people attending church to wear sports jerseys to services in tribute to his sports-loving son.

"Thank you all for the love and support. Keep praying and praying and praying," he continued.

Luke's friends and family gathered for a special mass Saturday morning. Alex Bresette will remember his nephew as fearless, full of life and undaunted.

"No 10-year-old should ever die," Alex Bresette said. "There is a hole in our family that won't ever quite heal."

Luke's mother broke both her ankles and her left pelvis; his brother, Tyler, suffered a concussion; and another brother, Sam, broke his left leg and nose.

Justin Cohen, from Children's of Alabama hospital, told CNN on Saturday night that Tyler and Sam Bresette were in fair condition.

Strength seems to be an understatement for the whole family, grateful for the support they've received, and already able to use words many of us couldn't right now.

"We are very fortunate and blessed to have so much love and outpouring of emotion," Alex Bresette said.

The family is thankful too for the time they had with Luke, a kid his uncle says lived the life he had to the fullest.

"Just a very giving kid. There's a lot of kids as they get older, they don't find it cool to hug their uncles and aunts and not Luke. Luke always had a hug," Alex Bresette said.

Luke was a volunteer and athlete active at St. Thomas More church and school, leaving so many friends and cousins there grieving and grappling with something they shouldn't face so young.

"I would say for other kids to carry on his spirit, be joyous and full of life and laugh and smile and help others laugh and smile, especially when it's tough, that's what Luke would have wanted," Alex Bresette said.

What caused the large digital sign, which showed when and where flights were arriving and departing, to collapse around 1:30 p.m. Friday? On Saturday, authorities still didn't know.

Members of the airport authority held an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss safety and security issues at the airport. Some changes have already been made.

For example, signs telling visitors not to touch or lean on the flight status monitors and yellow gates have already been placed around the monitors.

"(Birmingham Airport Authority) President and CEO Al Denson and the staff are continuing to work with officials to investigate," said Gaynell Hendricks, the chairwoman of the authority's board. "This includes discussions with contractors, subcontractors that are responsible for the modernization of the airport."

In the days prior, Ryan Bresette had put up several messages and photos on Facebook about the family's vacation in Destin, FL, including several showing two of his sons playing in the Gulf of Mexico with no one else in sight.

His post Saturday, by contrast, reflected his grief and affection for his late son.

"I miss and love Luke so very much."

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and CNN. All rights reserved.

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