Wonderful people. Happy, pleasant, upbeat. A very typical family.
Those are the words folks around the community used to describe the Sullivans, after learning that four of the five family members—Thomas, 49; Donna, 48; Meaghan, 18 and Mairead, 13—. Thomas Sullivan, Jr., 20, was able to escape uninjured, .
"They were just nice," said Jennifer Kreatsoulas, who lives a block over from 19 Wyndham Lane, the scene of the tragedy. "I'd see the mother in church, the son shoveling driveways in the winter time. Just really good people."
Kreatsoulas heard the news Tuesday morning, and said that she and other neighbors were in shock. Many declined to speak about the Sullivans, who were described as a "typical" close-knit family by Father Anthony D. Sorgie of St. James the Apostle Church in Carmel.
Both Thomas and Donna were active in the preparations for their children's sacraments, and they attended Mass often, he told Patch.
By Wednesday morning, Scorgie said, scores of mourners had stopped by the church, lighting candles and saying prayers. All four are set to be remembered in a funeral Mass there at 9 a.m. on Saturday. A joint wake is slated for 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Balsamo Cordovano Funeral Home on Church Street.
"Things are not going to get easier," Carmel High School Principal Kevin Carroll said Wednesday afternoon, in reference to the approaching arrangements. "It's going to be a big hit of reality."
Carroll said that Tuesday was an especially difficult day at the school. Wednesday was a bit better, but counselors went around to classrooms both days, speaking students who were particularly close with the girls. Even students who did not know Meaghan or Mairead were upset in some instances, as a number of teachers are visibly shaken, according to Carroll.
"Everyone here is pretty emotional," he said. "It's just an awful thing. It's so sad."
Students will have the opportunity to share their memories of the friends they lost by way of notes. Carroll said that a table in the cafeteria has been set up for teens who would like to use pen and paper to reflect on the deaths.
The memorial project is still in the early stages, but the principal said all the notes will be gathered—along with some of Meaghan and Mairead's artwork—and presented to Thomas Jr.
"It's a way of allowing the students to express themselves, and letting Tommy know how much his sisters were cared for," he said.
Folks at Arms Acres Inpatient Facility in Carmel mourned during a prayer service Tuesday. Donna Sullivan worked there for years as an intake coordinator.
"We were numb all day," coworker and neighbor Shari Cushnie said Tuesday afternoon, adding that no one at Arms Acres was in the mindset to work after hearing the news.
Cushnie said she and Donna were friendly acquaintances.
"She was a beautiful person. She had a very calming presence, and she was just a loving individual. Always positive, always smiling," she told Patch. "I just wish the very best for Tommy. He's going to need a lifetime of healing. "