Donna Rivers WUES students perform as part of Honor Choir Ohio Brush Creek Canoe/Kayak access completed Hall of Fame Christmas in Portsmouth Thyme to trim the Christmas Tree Junior High Lady Hounds get season-opening sweep Lady Devils roll past Paint Valley in season opener Senior Profile: Jessica Johnson Michael E Roberts Sr Evelyn L Jones Thomas M Calvert Ryan, Sowards lead Lady Indians to easy win in season opener, 57-36 over Felicity Senior Profile: Wes Hayslip Justice off to hot start at VSU County boys’ squads on display in annual SHAC Preview Night ‘Operation Christmas Child’ collects 1,707 shoe boxes for needy children Two animal cruelty cases investigated in Adams County DP&L considers closing power-generating plants in county Holiday spirit makes an early appearance in Adams County Chester A Mann Jeffrey A Daley Sr Michael G Tincher DAR sponsors Good Citizen Award Ohio’s young hunters harvest nearly 6,000 deer during Youth Gun Season Senior Profile: Kayle Thomas Helen N Hiestand Rev Walter R Egnor Sr Betty Beam Jamie L Corrill Jeffrey L Heppard Edsel L Massey Jr It is time to stop and take time to give thanks on a special day Another year to be very thankful for Senior Profile: Savannah McCoy McCoy signs to continue golf career at SSU North Adams hosts SHAC Girls Preview DAR commemorates 50th anniversary of Vietnam War Historical Society honors veterans Star Wars routine leads Fancy Free Cloggers to ‘America’s Got Talent’ A Day at the Opera Eagle Creek draws community to Thanksgiving celebration Ward ekes out victory over Worley in county commissioner race Mary A Garman Ronald L Palmer Joseph S McClanahan II Emma O Hayslip Devils slip by Georgetown in Foundation Game Hupp, Hunter, Wolke named OSSCA Second Team All-State Senior Profile: Kain Turner Lady Devils romp in Foundation Game Oh, those aromas coming from Mom’s kitchen What Became My Biggest Project Deer gun season set to begin ‘Trees to Textbooks’ shares revenues with local schools and communities BREAKING NEWS Winchester’s Baxter wins Miss Ohio USA 2017 pageant Genny Elkins Pauline S Stevenson Donald E Lewis Sr Charlotte R Seaman Ruth Prater Bennie Skaggs Gertrude Swayne West Union High School hosts impressive Veterans Day ceremonies Peebles Elementary hosts ceremony to honor local veterans Duke Energy exits Killen and Stuart Plants GE Aviation hosts annual Veterans Day celebration Senior Profile: Logan Gordley Jeffrey A Brown Sr Peebles Library welcomes local author and survivor on Nov. 19 Homer C Eldridge Robert W Schomberg One Commissioner race too close to call in unofficial count Voters approve majority of county levies on Tuesday’s election ballot NAES Sixth Graders practice the democratic process Honoring one who gave the ‘last full measure of devotion’ Overcoming adversity, veteran of Iraq War opens local business Senior Profile: Ben Figgins Senior Profile: Macy Mullenix SHAC Basketball Previews are set for Nov. 18 and 25 Trio of local golfers finish careers with trip to the highest level of high school competition Peebles sophomore Jenny Seas finishes sixth in OHSAA state cross-country meet Upset win sends Trump to the White House ACRMC awarded plaque for 50 years of service Peebles Elementary releases Honor Roll for First Nine Week Grading Period BREAKING ELECTION NEWS! Senior Profile: Jordyn Kell Orlie H Kirker Military homecoming at NAES Second half spells doom as Greyhounds fall to Hillcrest 42-12 in finale Senior Profile: Sarah McFarland WU’s Horton will continue golf career at SSU Lady Devils’ season ends in heartbreak with 3-2 loss in District championship battle Christine R. Ritchey Operation Christmas Child begins Nov. 14 Mental Health levy on tomorrow’s ballot Wanda L. Nixon David Rogers Robert “Bobby” Leonard
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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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2016 People's Defender