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Canadian community mourns brothers strangled by python while sleeping

By Faith Karimi, CNN
updated 11:53 AM EDT, Sun August 11, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Noah and Connor Barthe, ages 4 and 6, had been at a sleepover at a family friend's home
  • A python escaped its enclosure and strangled them to death
  • They were laid to rest in a single casket

(CNN) -- In death, as in life, the two brothers were inseparable.

Connor Barthe, 6, the loud protective big brother with a wicked smile and deep dimples. Noah, the little albeit quieter one, who wanted to play basketball when he grew up.

Their Canadian community of Campbellton, New Brunswick, eulogized the boys Saturday, days after they were strangled to death by an African rock python. The 100-pound snake came crashing through the ceiling of a family friend's apartment, where they were having a sleepover Monday.

"How can we prepare for such a service? There's not really any way to prepare," Father Maurice Frenette, the interim pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, told CBC News.

At the altar, the brothers smiled broadly in a picture, leaning against each other. Family members described them as sharing a close bond. They were best friends and shared everything, including their love of video games.

Police: Boys killed by snake died from asphyxiation

"Boys, oh boys, we loved those boys," family friend Melissa Ellis said, according to CBC News.

The two were visiting the home of Jean-Claude Savoie, who owns a pet store, when the tragic incident happened.

The python was kept in a glass enclosure similar to an aquarium, but slithered into the ventilation system. It was above the living room, where the boys were sleeping, when the ceiling caved in.

Savoie's son was asleep in another room, but was not harmed, CBC News reported.

The city's deputy mayor expressed his condolences and asked the community not to rush to judgment. African rock pythons are not allowed in the province , the Department of Natural Resources told CBC News

"Mr. Savoie, he is a human being and you know, he is suffering, he is grieving, so everyone is grieving as well for Mr. Savoie," Ian Comeau said.

As questions surround the incident, the family says the are forever changed.

"Were they taken from us too soon? Absolutely. But how much time would have been enough?" said Nadine Poirier, who delivered the eulogy.

The funeral service concluded with a somber rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as the procession walked out.

And as a symbol of their brotherly bond, they were laid to rest in a single, pale blue casket.

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