BOGALUSA, La. -- Monday was the first day back to school after spring break for 500 students at a Northshore school.
But when they got there, they learned one of their classmates would never be coming back after a single father faced tragedy while on vacation.
On Easter Sunday at the First Pentecostal Church of Bogalusa, children in the sanctuary were waiting for the service to start. It had never been recorded before.
That's when kindergartner Ashton Thomas stood up and, from memory, recited the 23rd Psalm. The church video just happened to be on.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures..."
Two days later, Ashton was gone.
"I don't need a time machine to go back 100 years, six months. If I could have two seconds back, two seconds that's all I need for an entire life with my son. Two seconds is all I would need. That's how quick this happened," said Ashton's father Mike Garic.
Last Tuesday on spring break vacation at a camp near Slidell, Ashton suffered fatal head trauma caused by a moving service elevator.
"He was probably only 6 or 7 feet away, and I still couldn't stop it in time and I never had my eyes off of him," said Garic.
Monday, with his parents and friends by his side, Ashton's father, Sgt. Mike Garic of the Bogalusa Police force, visited his son's classmates at Ben's Ford Christian School in Bogalusa.
He had no idea the children decided to keep Ashton's desk in the classroom and fill a comfort box with notes, rainbows, flowers, peace signs and drawings of his favorite thing, trucks.
The children all ran to Mike and hugged and kissed him, eager to show their works of art.
Ashton could not wait for kindergarten graduation.
"We're going to have his chair at the graduation ceremony. We'll probably have his picture there. I asked his dad Mike if he would come and accept his diploma for him," said Maureen Gaddy, principal of Ben's Ford Christian School.
She said the goal was to keep the classroom as normal as possible. Grief counselors were on hand if anyone need them.
Mike is overwhelmed with the outpouring of community support. Fire and police from around Southeast Louisiana rode in the funeral procession on Saturday. People have donated funds for expenses.
Children tell the adults, 'Don't cry, Ashton is happy in Heaven.'
"I would give everything I ever had in this world to have him back," said Garic.
Ashton's father is starting a scholarship fund for the school.
You can donate at any Citizens Savings Bank on the Northshore to the "Ashton Garic Memorial Fund," or click here.