GARY | A teacher for one of two brothers who drowned Saturday in a water-filled pit in Hobart has started a fund to help their family pay funeral expenses.
The teacher said she decided to start the fund at Chase Bank after learning the family of Donel Smith, 9, and Terrion Smith, 8, could not afford a service for the boys until July 3.
The boys' aunt, Tara Rogers, said any money raised will be used to pay for funeral services. Visitation is set for July 3 and a church service and burial are slated for July 5 at Manuel Memorial Funeral Home, 421 W. Fifth Ave., Gary.
Terrion had just finished first grade the week before his death, the teacher said.
Terrion was a good helper, she said. He often helped pick up trash after breakfast and turned lights off as students left the classroom, she said.
"We bonded so well," the teacher said. "He was just the little custodian of the class. If I needed something, I didn't have to ask him."
Donel's teacher told Rogers he was a math whiz, she said.
"When he would finish his math work, he would help other students in the class with their math work," Rogers said.
"They were very good boys. They were normal 8- and 9-year-olds," Rogers said. "They were always willing to help people. They loved to play basketball. They loved Ninja Turtles."
Donations may be made to the Smith Children of Gary, Ind., Memorial Fund at any Chase Bank branch.
The brothers drowned Saturday night in water that had pooled as a result of excavation on a property in the 4000 block of Missouri Street in Hobart, which is several blocks from the boys' Gary home. The neighborhood is just west of Interstate 65 and south of Ridge Road.
The water-filled pit where they drowned was drained and filled Monday.
Hobart police are investigating.