Ernest Duck Jr., 37, and Tariq Salley, 34, were killed on Tuesday when their vehicle hopped a curb, hit a tree and cement wall in front of the school. No students or faculty were injured in the crash, which happened about a half hour after school had dismissed. An investigation is ongoing into the circumstances surrounding the crash.
"They were both so young," said Our Fathers House of Restoration Pastor Sharon Johnson who is coordinating the vigil. She said that Duck had sought guidance and support from the church over the years and that some of his family had been active with the church. "It's a shock," Johnson said.
"We are supporting those in need," Johnson said. "Anything we can do to help them get through this."
Johnson called Duck a "great guy. Very loving. He was a great guy to be around. He was always in high spirits."
A memorial service is being planned for Duck on Tuesday at the church on Waconah Street. Duck's body will be transported to Brooklyn where he is originally from, for a burial. Salley also is from Brooklyn.
Duck had lived in Pittsfield for more than 20 years, said his friend Carey Pilot, who also is helping to organize the vigil. Pilot said she had just seen the two a day before the crash.
"They were doing well. They were chasing the kids, playing with the kids." Pilot said Duck was the father of four children.
"It's devastating," she said. She called him a "warm" and "funny guy" who was known as being "electrifying." He loved wrestling and kids, she said.
"He was a big teddy bear."
Tariq, also known as Taj, was the "sweetest guy," she said.
The accident, Carey said, was "one big mess. My heart hurts. There are so many unanswered questions. Everybody is wondering why and what happened."