February 16, 2018 03:05 PM

Nicholas Dworet had big dreams.

But he was killed Wednesday along with 16 others when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing a 17-year-old described by his family as “full of life and joy.”

“The family is heartbroken and devastated to have lost Nicholas,” reads a statement from the Dworet Family. “He dreamed of making the Olympic swim team and going to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He believed he could accomplish anything as long as he tried his best.”

After the shooting, the Dworet family first heard from their youngest son Alexander, a freshman at the school who was taken to the hospital after a bullet grazed him in the back of the head, says family friend Nicole Nilsson.

After Alexander was released from the hospital that evening, his parents went to the family staging area and waited for news about Nicholas, who was set to attend the University of Indianapolis next fall and compete on the school swimming team. 

Nicholas Dworet
Courtesy of Nicole Nilsson

“Maybe he just didn’t have a phone. Maybe he forgot his mom’s phone number. They don’t use phone numbers anymore,” Nilsson, recounting the family’s thoughts, says. “Maybe no one had a phone. Maybe he didn’t think it was a big deal and that’s why he hadn’t called yet.”

Unfortunately, Nicholas was one of the fatal victims of Wednesday’s tragedy. Nilsson says everyone is still in shock.

“This black cloud went into the school and shot these children and rushed out of the school and went right to the families. It’s like a black cloud that blew them apart to pieces,” she says through tears. “Now, Nicholas is on the other side and he’s slowly picking up those pieces and trying to put them back together, but it’s very hard and it’s going to take a long time.”

For now, Nicholas’ family is trying to cope with the devastation while remembering the young man whose bright future was cut short.

“He was a happy, young man full of life and joy,” the family’s statement read. “He was extremely excited to have met the love of his life. He loved his friends and family with all of his heart.”

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