Friday should have been a day of celebration for Joseph Alaniz’s family and friends; instead, it was a day of sorrow, as they had to say goodbye to their son, brother, cousin, friend and teammate for the final time.

Alaniz, 18, died in a car accident early Tuesday near Marble Falls when the vehicle in which he was a passenger swerved to avoid a deer. The other three passengers lived, though one was in critical condition on Thursday.

Every pew at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Killeen was filled Friday, and people were lined up along the walls and in the foyer. More than 1,500 people attended the service — and most were brought to tears.

Father Matthew Kinney said the outpouring of support represents the life Alaniz led, and the tears were only a sign of the love he gave to and received from so many.

“Tears are not a sign of weakness,” he said.

“They are a sign of love and a true testament to the goodness Joseph brought to this world. Do not feel ashamed — cry.”

The former Harker Heights High School standout football player graduated in June and was set to attend Sam Houston State University.

Many who knew him said they remembered him as a man with a loving heart, a kind disposition and an unselfish attitude.

“Life is incredibly fragile, and Joseph’s was tragically cut short,” Kinney said. “As we mourn for Joseph, we must remember that death is always sharp and painful. Someone as good and kind as Joseph is difficult to say goodbye to. We must remember that God has a plan — but that’s later. Today, we must say goodbye.”

Harker Heights assistant football coach Robert Hagey, who coached Alaniz for four years, stood alone in the parking lot after the Mass of Christian burial and solemnly watched the mourners exit the front door of the church. “That was hard in there.”

Following the service, Alaniz was taken to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery for interment.

Contact James Harper at or 254-501-7554.​

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