BRADENTON, Fla. -- Two recent graduates from Southeast High School in Manatee County died during a trip in South America.
Friends tell ABC Action News, the teens were riding on a moped when a bus hit and killed them. The crash happened only hours after the young men arrived in Peru.
Their friends said they had a two-week trip planned to celebrate graduating from high school.
"It's disappointing. It's not just a loss for my friends and I and their families. It's a loss for the world because they would have accomplished great things," said John Ferguson.
Zack Morris and Albert Ales were enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Southeast High School in Bradenton.
Their engineer teacher, Richard Platt, has taught for 16 years and said Morris and Ales stood out.
"I could tell them to go do one thing or the other and they would do it. They would make sure it was done right and done safely. They had a bigger picture beyond their years of maturity. I go back to their parents, their parents really prepared those kids for what lives they were going to lead," said Richard Platt, an engineering teacher at Southeast High School.
Friends said Ales had plans to attend the University of Central Florida. Morris had plans to attend Yale on an ROTC scholarship.
"They're both just great students. We went through the International Baccalaureate program at Southeast. We were always staying up late, putting in the hard work," said Ferguson.
Ferguson said he met Ales and Morris in high school. They had matching sweatshirts made that said "LDO." It stands for "Lets Do Great."
"I'm going to live my life to the fullest just like they were trying to do. That's what all my friends are going to try to do," said Ferguson.
"They lived life to the fullest. They took every single opportunity given before them and they more than ever exceeded my wildest expectation," said Platt.
A joint celebration of life is planned for the Morris and Ales on Saturday, June 15 at 10 a.m. It will take placed at the Woodland Community Church, 9607 East State Road 70 in Bradenton and the public is welcome to attend.
The families of both men have created a lasting endowment that will award scholarships to two Southeast HS Inter-Baccalaureate (IB) students yearly. The Community Foundation of Sarasota has agreed to steward these funds. Morris and Ales were were graduates of this Manatee County High School's IB program which encourages personal and academic achievement, challenging students to excel in their studies and in their personal development.
Donations to the scholarship can be made here.