This weekend, my husband received a message no one ever wants to read. A fatal car accident took the lives of two local students. Four others were injured in the accident. The news hung over us, and our entire community, for the rest of the weekend. Itís still there this week and probably will be for a long time.
Iíve covered car accidents in the past. Iíve written about young people who died behind the wheel. It always feels personal, even if I donít know the people involved. Iíve had to learn how to compartmentalize to get by. In 2015, a local school employee was killed just outside of Green Forest. I have never forgotten his name. Some nights I think of him and all the nice things his loved ones had to say about him. As I learned more about his life, I started to feel like I knew him. Like I said, it feels personal.
This time itís especially personal, because Gideon spent half of last year working with Eureka Springs High School students as part of his graduate school program. He knew the students who were in the accident. Seeing the look in his eyes when he got the news told me all I needed to know about the boys our community has lost. They were good people. They were loved. They are gone far too soon.
When it comes to covering accidents like this, I fear people in the community see us as bloodthirsty journalists on the hunt for a big story. Thatís not the case at all. No one in our office ever wants to hear about a young person who has died behind the wheel, much less write about it. We do it because itís our duty to the community to share whatís happening here. I wish we only had to cover school musicals and basketball games, but that wouldnít be an accurate reflection of our community. We have to share it all, the good and the bad.
Unfortunately, we have a very sad story on the cover today. I hope the deaths arenít what you take with you from the story. Instead, I want you to remember those boys and how much they gave to their loved ones. They were funny and talented and full of promise. Just because theyíre gone doesnít mean their light has disappeared. Thatís going to stick around so long as everyone keeps their memory alive.
We are lucky to live in a county where the cities and school districts support one another. Weíve all got our rivalries, but weíre Carroll County residents at the end of the day. This isnít a tragedy unique to Eureka Springs. Everyone in Carroll County is feeling it. Weíre all mourning together, and I hope that unity gives you hope.
To everyone affected by the tragedy, I hope you know we have heavy hearts at Carroll County News. There are no words to alleviate the pain, and weíre keenly aware of that. In the coming days, weeks and months, we hope the families can begin to heal and find peace.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com