Pamela M Hampton Former county sheriff celebrates 80th birthday Missing Adams County man is found Lady Hounds fall to Whiteoak in slugfest Calvert’s walk-off gives Hounds 9-8 win over Whiteoak Charles A Benjamin Give My Regards to Broadway Joyce Berry Joe L Easter William E Foster Margaret Belcher John M Cheatham Ronnie Simpson Under new management county hospital is thriving against all odds Historic fairground gazebo demolished One year later, still no arrests in Rhoden family murders There will be trouble in River City! Monna L Fitzgerald Jesse Carrington Janice M Sowards Rhoden family members make plea for tips in Pike Co murders of loved ones Quilting – the art that’s no longer just for Grandma Young is Adams County recipient of Franklin B. Walter All-Scholastic Award Wenstrup recognized as Community Health Advocate Ready, set, go! 25th annual Egg Hunt draws hundreds Applicants needed for Adams County Fair Queen Humane Society encourages responsible animal ownership ACCS holds annual Science Fair Peebles Elementary names March Students of the Month Pierce fires perfect game as Peebles blanks West Union Hunters preparing for 2017 Wild Turkey Season Lady Hounds fall 12-3 at Lynchburg Dragons lose early lead, drop SHAC match up with Fayetteville, 13-6 Senior Profile: Isaiah Anderson Devils roll to big SHAC win at Ripley Despite soggy night, WUHS hosts annual Invitational Meet Celebrities for a night George F Carr Jr Teresa S Hoskins Mary B McClure Richard B Collins Randall D Fetters Former Manchester officer indicted on five counts WUHS student wins state Beta Club Secretary’s seat OVCTC students part of state competition S.R. 73 closed for culvert replacement Peebles Lions Club holds first Easter Egg Hunt Weyrich graduates with honors from Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics North Adams Elementary releases Honor Roll for Third grading Period Scholarships available from Jefferson Alumni Olympic athlete speaks at April 6 SAAM event Venture Hawks end their basketball season with a victory at WUHS Devils baseball sweeps doubleheader from Northwest Greyhounds gain SHAC split, split twinbill with East England signs with Rio Grande golf Pierce fans 16, Lady Indians blank Eastern Brown 4-0 Maybe somebody on the river does have a plan Senior Profile: Ryan Dryden Enjoying the view Still a time for celebration Carl R Brown Lena R Staggs Adams County Crews Schedule Culvert Replacement Projects Merlan Shoemaker Dwayne E Thompson Help is on the line! West Union Elementary honors February Students of the Month WUHS hosts 2017 All-County Arts and Music Festival Ohio Brush Creek Canoe/Kayak Access Grand Opening set for April 20 Kasich cracks down on opiate-based prescriptions West Union High School students have successful trip to State Beta Convention North Adams Beta Club excels at State Convention ACRMC hosts annual Health Fair Robert H Bushman Senior Profile: Skylar Newman Nine-run inning leads Lady Hounds to run rule win over West Union WUHS foursome breaks school record First county baseball battle goes to the Greyhounds On the road, Lady Indians pick up two more SHAC victories Senior Profile: Christa Williams One more ‘shining moment’ for SHAC seniors at C103 All-Star Game Esie M Chandler Phyllis Adkins Former Manchester police deputy faces Grand Jury Indictments Cornell tosses no-hitter, Fenton goes deep, Dragons open season with 11-0 SHAC win over Whiteoak New Verizon store opening in West Union Stephen R Palmer Dual culvert replacements for SR 73 Deana P Grooms Tim Phipps Marcella Walker Alvin R Mitchum Senior Profile: Chase Darnell SHAC hoopsters shine at District 14 All-Star Game Greyhounds run rule St. Pat, 15-0 Indians drop SHAC opener West Union hosts early JH Track Meet North Adams student wins state Beta Club President’s seat Anna B Copas Charles A Nelson

Life is precious, and fleeting

Funny how plans can change in a heartbeat. I was driving home from Columbus on Sunday afternoon in a miserable rain storm and was planning in my mind about what this column would be about. I thought about a really sarcastic Reds theme or a bad luck Bengals column, but all those ideas went quickly out of my mind when I got home safely and heard the horrible news that came out of West Union that evening.

Life is precious and fleeting. We all found that out on Sunday evening and when it is young people involved it hurts even more. Not that there is any good time for a tragedy like this to happen, but the holiday season compounds the pain. Children are a special gift that we are given and when they are taken away far too soon, it just seems so unfair and really makes us question a lot of things that we always had faith in. Add in the fact that far too many young people have lost their lives in the county in the last few years and it becomes even more of a tough pill to swallow.

As parents, we all dread the time when we might get that phone call. We had that call a few years ago and thankfully our son wasn’t hurt, though it was a traumatic experience for all of us. I can’t even imagine the call that went to a pair of West Union families on Sunday evening. It is every parents’ nightmare.

I did not know the young lady in the accident but I did know Dillion Grooms from summer baseball, so when I heard the news I immediately looked back at some of my pictures that I had taken then to see if it was the same young man, and unfortunately it was. I remember Dillion playing for West Union and I remember him just as many of you do, as a polite and respectful young man, and a hard-nosed and tough baseball player. If my memory is correct, I may have seen him try the catching position for the first time, which is no easy task at all.

As those of you who read this column loyally know, a lot of my happy memories revolve around time spent on a baseball diamond and I know that this week many of Dillion’s teammates and opponents are recalling the same things. It was heartbreaking to hear that he and Haley had just gotten engaged and were ready to spend their life together and that was all cut short, at least here on earth, in a matter of seconds. I don’t understand that, you don’t understand that, and I am certain that two local families don’t understand it.

When we arrived here at the Defender office on Monday morning, we knew we had to report on the accident as it was the biggest news story in the county, but deep down we also wished we could just leave it out completely. As editor, I was very cautious in our gathering of information, wanting to be sure that we got none of the facts incorrect out of respect for the families. I hope that the story we ended up with does a fair job of reporting the facts and is not too difficult for the families. Through the whole process, I wondered how I would react to such a story and tried to use that as a guide. It’s impossible for me to know if I’m totally correct because I have never been in their situation and my heart mourns for them just as the whole community does.

If you are like me, you worry every time your kids are out on the road until you either hear their car pull in the driveway or hear them come in the door. At that moment, it always seems like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. That weight never went away on Sunday night for two families, it only got heavier and heavier. Why? That is the question we can never answer. Why do some people live to be 100 while young people like Dillion and Haley are taken at 18? It will be repeated over and over that God has a plan but that doesn’t mean we have to like it, just have to accept it. That may be one of the most difficult tasks given to us here on earth.

All of us here at the Defender send our thoughts and prayers to the families of Haley and Dillion and just like everyone, we wish we had answers, but there are none out there at the moment. On Sunday night right after I heard the news of this horrible accident, my son came downstairs and said he was going to drive to Maysville to eat with some friends. How badly I wanted to say, “just stay home,” but I didn’t, but I worried just a bit more that night until he walked back in the door.

How we wish that Dillion and Haley had come home and walked through their family’s doors on Sunday, but I guess they were meant to walk through a different door that night.The message that many of their friends have posted on social media seems appropriate, “Fly high!’

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Mark Carpenter

Sports Editor

Reach Mark Carpenter at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.

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