Leslie V Lawrence Jr Fair hosts Cheerleading Competition Peebles FFA installs 2017-18 Officers Seniors Citizens and Armed Forces Day at the fair Cheers! It’s mocktail time! North Adams Beta Club attends National Convention at Disney ‘You won’t believe the chaos it rains around you’ McCarty’s receive 4-H Alumni award McKayla Raines crowned 2017 Junior Fair Queen Eastern knocks off Peebles 10-5 to capture 14 U baseball tourney Just listen for the answer Time to teach a little History Fair hosts Little Miss and Mister, Toddler shows Jason E Palmer Dorothy Stephenson Shane G Varney The weekend I joined the Army David Stutz Patty Davis Battle results in new chief at the Division of Wildlife Join in with ‘Adams County Rocks’ After 500-mile journey, pigeon ‘drops’ in for a visit Nine-run third inning leads Peebles to upset win in SHYL 12U baseball tournament finals Willie L White David A Presley Connie Greene Carolyn Belczyk retiring from OSU Extension Young’s reign as Fair Queen ends, new journey begins Robert L Boone Esther C Malone Independence Day parade puts patriotism on display Being an addict’s mom: a sad and scary place to be White House newest addition to People’s Defender mailing list Young leaving Manchester to become Ripley Principal Leadoff homer holds up, Manchester takes 10U softball tourney 1-0 over North Adams North Adams tops Manchester in 12U semis Monday Night League concludes with SHAC showdown How we see ourselves In the good ole’ summertime Ronnie L Roush Elizabeth A Gifford Tom White Ivan H Copas Kathleen Lewis Paul Minton Jessica A Edmisten Workhouse helps free up jail space Penguin ‘chills’ with kids in library visit ‘Heroin has taken me to my darkest places’ The beauty of the giant combine West Union gets past North Adams 5-2 in 10U baseball tourney play Eastern Brown hosts annual Girls Soccer Shootout “It’s been a real community effort” Summer ball winds down for local squads Submit your Knothole team photos! Gokey, Morgan, Young to perform at 2017 Festival of the Bells Just looking around the room When in the course of human events When your dreams seem out of reach Ricky A Smith Ricky A Smith Dean McClellan Ruby O Shell Peggy R Atkinson Caroline E Fulton Marcia R Baldwin Juanita N Lewis Mary K Hilterbran Jack D Reed ‘I had no gumption except to get high’ Long-lost siblings meet for the first time after nearly six decades apart Freedom Festival to honor the American Flag ‘Music and Memory’ at Adams County Manor renews lives lost to dementia Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy takes gold at 2017 Ohio Police and Fire Games Toole awarded Winchester Alumni Scholarship Lady Devils host Summer Varsity Shootout In 14U, Peebles finishes regular season with blowout win Der professionelle Basketball-Traum Local pair attend Wabash College Wrestling Camp Shootouts in the summer time Eight dollars and three keys When life gets messy Hot summer days were no sweat Janice McGlothin Jeannine O Evans Gerald Grooms Marvin Setty Richard G Waldron Grand Marshals selected for West Union Fourth of July Parade Adams County, Maysville Vet team up to save injured dog Michael S Knauff Victor P Price Success builds from the bottom up Finalists named for 2017 Fair Queen Contest William Glenn DeWine, Reader Call For Tips in Rhoden Murder Investigation MHS principal to take superintendent post Peebles Skate Park now a reality 2017-18 Fur and Feather Ambassadors named Caley Grooms is Cattlemen’s Beef Ambassador

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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