BRADENTON, Fla. (FOX 13) - Of the hundreds of students at Southeast High School in Bradenton, Albert Ales and Zachary Morris stood out among the crowd.
"They were bigger than life. They were those kind of kids that made everyone feel better when they were around," said Richard Platt, the applied engineering teacher at Southeast High School.
Just one week ago, the pair crossed the stage as official graduates of Southeast High. They then packed their bags for a long-awaited senior trip to Peru.
Ales and Morris arrived on Friday. However, they were only there for a few hours before tragedy struck. They were hit by a bus while riding a motorcycle to explore the city of Cusco. They died a short time later.
"You see stuff like this in the news, so it's really hard when this happens to you, it's not easy," said Anthony Sevarino, a close friend of the young men.
For the teens' best friends, John Ferguson and Anthony Sevarino, the news is devastating.
"They were like brothers to me. We had a whole group of friends, and they were like so important to the group, and not only to the group but us especially," Ferguson said.
The teens were well known for who they were as friends.
"Albert was the guy that if you had a problem, he was going to fix it. And Zach was just the smartest guy you've ever seen, so confident in his speaking. Both of them are really the reason I am molded into the person I am today," Sevarino said.
But they were also known for making a difference in the classroom. Both Morris and Ales are credited for helping to develop a program that makes wooden toy cars to send out to underprivileged kids.
"When you have two students that made such an impact on our community and such an impact on our school, and they completely change the direction of where I teach engineering now and where I'm going with it until I retire, it's completely devastating," Platt told FOX 13.
Two lives taken far too soon, but a heartbroken community is now vowing to carry on the teens' legacies.
"The confidence they carried, the selflessness they had and the charisma, I just want to be just like them," said Ferguson.
As of now, no vigils have been planned. The families are focusing their efforts on bringing the boys back from Peru.