ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - From the moment a young Anusha in Thailand ate a peanut, put the shell back together and handed it to his adopted dad, the Yageys of Rome knew he was theirs and they were his.
The seven-year-old comedian who came to the Yageys, and the United State, with only the clothes the Yageys gave him on his back, soon learned to love snowboarding, music, lacrosse and making people laugh, which came easily to the natural comedian.
Sixteen-year-old Anusha Yagey died in a car crash in Floyd Tuesday while on his way to Holland Patent School. His brother, Joey, who was driving the car, is recovering from an arm injury which EMTs tell his parents is most likely from trying to free his brother from the car.
Anusha Yagey's snowboard and lacrosse stick still rest on his bed. The music lover's stereo still plays in his bedroom, where hand-painted murals of the Yagey family grace the walls. There is more laughter than tears contained within those walls as Anusha's family remember the natural comedian who always made them laugh, especially when assimilating to U.S. life and the English language.
"He was so funny, when learning English, he called American Idol 'kamika maya' ....kamika maya...he couldn't say it very well," remembers Anusha's mother, Sharon.
Sharon Yagey says she doesn't want people wearing black or mourning for her son or their family.
"He was so much fun, I don't like to mourn. I like to celebrate his life. He's still living. I don't like to say pass away I like to say relive again," says Sharon Yagey.
Anusha's father, Michael, says his son fought to live, losing and regaining his heartbeat seven times, as emergency workers struggled to sustain his life. Once life support was disconnected, he says Anusha's heart continued to beat for five minutes as his family comforted him, telling him they loved him and not to be afraid.
The family continues to love their son, and they're working to make sure that his life continues to touch others, by collecting donations to ensure the survival of the sport their son loved.
"He loved lacrosse so we want the contributions, any donations, going to Holland Patent youth lacrosse association because right now the parents fund the team. Anusha was such an athlete he would love this. He's going to be in his lacrosse uniform at the wake," says Sharon Yagey.
Thanks to an outpouring of love and support from Anusha's friends, the Yagey family is learning things they never knew about their son. They want that journey to continue, so they're making a memory backpack, instead of a memory jar.
"Scrawl a favorite memory just on a piece of paper, if you feel uncomfortable you don't even have to sign it. I would like you to because I'd like to know who you were too, and we're going to put it in his bookbag and as we feel up to it and we're lonely we're going to read one and I think it's going to cheer us all up," says Sharon Yagey.
Calling hours for Anusha Yagey are Sunday, 2-7 pm at Bush Funeral Home in Rome. The funeral mass is Monday, 11am, at St. Leo's Church in Holland Patent.
Donations to the Holland Patent Lacrosse Team can be sent to c/o Michael and Sharon Yagey, 7523 Lambert Rd., Rome, NY, 13440.