Sean and Kim Copeland had taken their family from the Texas Hill Country to Europe for a summer vacation — seeing the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona in Spain and exploring the sights in Barcelona. Then, they traveled to the French Riviera for Bastille Day.
It was there, in Nice, that a Tunisian-born émigré drove a truck into a crowd celebrating the French National Day on Thursday night, killing at least 84 people and wounding many others in an apparent terrorist attack.
Sean Copeland, 51, and his 11-year-old son, Brodie, were among them.
“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,” Jess Davis, a family friend who is speaking for the Copelands, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “They are so loved.”
Davis said Sean Copeland’s wife, Kim, and his older children, 29-year-old Maegan and 22-year-old Austin, survived the attack. Two of Sean Copeland’s brothers are set to fly to Nice with State Department officials, Davis said, and will travel back to the U.S. with Kim, Maegan and Austin Copeland.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Friday that the French flag was being flown over the governor’s mansion in remembrance of the victims in Nice, including the Copelands.
“While every heinous attack like this is tragic, this latest one hits close to home,” Abbott said in a statement. “Cecilia and I ask that Texans join us in praying for all of the victims, and especially the Copeland family as they mourn the loss of a devoted father and loving son.”
In a statement, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said, “We are lifting the Copeland family up in prayer, along with all of the victims who are suffering because of this heinous act of terror.”
The State Department confirmed that two U.S. citizens were killed in the attack in southeastern France but did not release the victims’ names.
“We express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of those killed,” spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. Kirby said the State Department is “providing all possible consular assistance.”
The University of California at Berkeley said Friday that one of its study-abroad students, an American identified as 20-year-old Nicolas Leslie, was “still unaccounted for” following the attack in Nice, where students were studying at the European Innovation Academy.
Leslie is a junior in the College of Natural Resources, according to the university.
The university said three other UC Berkeley students were injured in the attack.