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Valley News Dispatch

Mourning friends remember Eli Bussotti as a guy who could light up a room

Emily Balser
| Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, 7:36 p.m.

Eli Bussotti could light up a room wherever he went — telling jokes and making friends along the way.

The loss of that light makes it that much more difficult for those mourning his untimely death.

Eli, 17, a senior at Highlands High School, died Sunday from injuries suffered in a car crash Friday in Brackenridge.

Those close to him recalled their favorite memories of him Sunday night as they fought back tears.

Luke Cochran, 16, has been friends with Eli since they were children. He said Eli was always there for him, whether it was just checking in to make sure everything was all right or cracking a joke to get a smile.

“If you could have a friend like Eli, you were the luckiest person on earth,” he said. “That kid had a big enough heart to fill an entire room.”

Luke said Eli was outgoing and could be friends with anyone.

“Eli was one of those people, you put a bunch of people in a crowded room and you could still point him out,” he said. “He could make anybody laugh.”

Highlands senior Jake Arvay, 18, has been friends with Eli for about six years. He said despite their differences in interests — Jake more into music and Eli more into sports — that never deterred Eli from befriending him.

“He’d come into the lunch line (and say), ‘you did amazing in the show last night,’ ” he said. “He was the guy that you wanted to be around.”

Jake hopes the senior class can come together to be a little kinder to each other and a little safer for the rest of the school year.

“I talked to him that day,” Jake said, “and I didn’t even say goodbye to him because I didn’t think I needed to.”

Family friend Addie Evans, 21, said Eli was like a brother to her. They spent their childhood together with each other’s siblings.

“He definitely was very, very caring and family-oriented,” she said. “I know he’s definitely going to be missed.”

Evans said she wishes she would have had one more chance to talk with Eli before his accident.

“Kids sometimes fool around, and this is a really, really hard lesson for all of us to be careful,” she said. “Whenever I hang up the phone, I always remind everyone I love them and to be safe — I wish he would have called me that day so I could have said that.”

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, emilybalser@tribweb.com or via Twitter @emilybalser.

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