AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – A Texas man and his son were among the 84 people killed when an attacker crashed a heavy truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in the French seaside city of Nice, the Austin American-Statesman newspaper and local TV news reported.
Sean Copeland, 51, and his son Brodie, 11, from Lakeway, a community 20 miles (30 km) northwest of Austin, were in Nice for a family vacation, family friend Jess Davis told the newspaper.
Two U.S. citizens were among those killed in the attack, the U.S. State Department confirmed in a statement on Friday that did not identify the dead.
“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 to the newspaper and Austin TV news stations.
Sean Copeland was the vice president of North and South America for Kapow Software, Davis said. Kapow is a division of Lexmark International Inc.
Posts on social media accounts owned by what appeared to be relatives confirmed the deaths.
“I don’t even know how to put this in words,” Heather Copeland, a niece of Sean, wrote on Twitter.
Haley Copeland, another niece of Sean, wrote on Facebook that “losing a loved one is hard no matter the circumstances but losing a loved one in such a tragic and unexpected way is unbearable. Prayers are much appreciated.”
A photo of Brodie playing in French Riviera waters was posted on Facebook by his youth baseball league, Hill Country Baseball, which said it received it just hours before the attack.
“Nobody deserves this type of fate, especially not such a wonderful family,” the league said in the post. “Rest in peace, Brodie and Sean, you will be remembered by many.”
The post was followed by hundreds of comments, many offering condolences and prayers. Sean Copeland was remembered by several people in the baseball league as a loving and caring father.
U.S. Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, who is also chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, wrote on Twitter on Friday: “A truly heartbreaking loss of life in #Nice, my condolences and prayers are with the Copelands and the community of Lakeway, TX today.”
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York, David Brunnstrom in Moscow and Jon Herskovitz in Austin; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)