Father and 17-Year-Old Son Killed in Crash While Traveling to Son's College Music School Audition

Aaron "A.J." Bates II and his father, Aaron Bates, were remembered by loved ones as being "kind, funny, creative, generous, and loving"

Aaron Bates, AJ Bates
Aaron Bates and Aaron “A.J.” Bates II. Photo: Lakeland Funeral Home

A beloved father and son who shared a passion for music are being remembered by their Florida community following their deaths.

Aaron "A.J." Bates II, 17, and his father, Aaron Bates, 40, were involved in a fatal car accident on Saturday while traveling to Florida State University's College of Music in Tallahassee, where A.J. — the head drum major of his high school band — had an audition, according to local newspaper The Ledger.

Citing the Florida Highway Patrol, which did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment, the outlet reported that they died at the scene after their vehicle crossed a median and was struck by a truck. A cause of the accident has yet to be released.

"As many of you may have already heard, this past Saturday we experienced a great loss," Hannah Smith, a former Lakeland High School head drum major, wrote in a post on the band's Facebook page on Tuesday.

The band was also deeply important to dad Aaron, who was drum major himself when he attended the school, according to his obituary. Years later, he went on to volunteer "his time and energy to support that same band as an adult."

Both father and son were remembered as being "excellent bandsmen" who "created uncontainable joy for whomever they came in contact with."

"It is difficult to find words to express the impact that these two men had on the Dreadnaught Band program," Smith wrote in the band's tribute. "The Bates instilled an unparalleled sense of determination and commitment into the spirit of every band member, modeling habits to last for a lifetime."

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In the midst of their grief, the community is also coming together to support their family, affectionately known as the "Bates Bunch."

"Our hearts ache with the overwhelming sorrow at the loss of two of the most incredible, kind, funny, creative, generous, and loving members of the Bates family," Katie's sister-in-law wrote in a message on a GoFundMe campaign.

"Many have asked how to help. Your prayers, thoughts, worlds of support, and yes, financial support are greatly appreciated during this difficult time," the organizer wrote. "There will be numerous costs in the coming weeks and months including but not limited to funeral, transportation, food, housing, and other living expenses that will now fall on Katie as a recently widowed mother and teacher."

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Aaron first met his wife Katie back at Lakeland High School, where they were both members of the school band, according to his obituary. The high school sweethearts tied the knot in 2003.

As for A.J., he was "extremely proud to follow in his father's footsteps," the student's obituary read.

"He was accepted into Florida State University as a music major with a euphonium concentration and was looking forward to moving to Tallahassee in the fall," the tribute continued. "Aaron will be remembered by all for his kind heart and sense of humor."

A.J. and his dad spent their final day together at Disney World, where the high school band was playing for a marathon, LHS band director Luke Hart told The Ledger.

"We got to spend time with Aaron and his dad as we were doing what we love to do and seeing them doing what they loved to do and playing and performing," Hart said.

Those interested in donating to the Bates family GoFundMe can do so here.

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