South Carolina — Hundreds of mourners gathered Wednesday in Columbia to remember seven University of South Carolina students who were killed last month when a beach house caught fire while they celebrated the end of the season's warm weather.
Six wreaths dedicated to the USC students bore a single red flower. A seventh wreath was decorated in purple and orange in tribute to the Clemson University student who also died in the Oct. 28 blaze.
"We have now had seven funerals," said Dennis Pruitt, vice president for student affairs at USC. "Still, we find we have an ache in our hearts that just won't leave. But we must carry on. Folding our losses into our own lives, we must each return our focus to living."
The students were killed in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. Most were avid Gamecock football fans and had been watching college football that weekend.
Authorities have ruled the fire accidental and said a discarded cigarette or other smoking materials may have caused the fire.