Within a week’s time, a multi-car accident and a condominium fire claimed the lives of eight young people in central Missouri.
The first happened when three teens collided head-on with a vehicle driven by a young adult who drove onto the highway the wrong way in an apparent effort to elude police. All three teens and the young woman were killed.
The second tragedy occurred when a fire broke out at an Osage Beach condominium at the Lake of the Ozarks, taking the lives of two 2-year-olds, a 4-year-old and a 5-year-old. The fire broke out on the top floor of the condo, which was not equipped with fire sprinklers. It was built before building codes in the area required them, according to authorities.
The raging fire made it impossible for firefighters to rescue the children, who were related and were together to celebrate the birthday of one of them.
The outpouring of support not only from friends but the Jefferson City-Holts Summit and lake communities has been significant.
These tragedies were harder to bear not only because each involved very young teens and preschoolers but also because each involved multiple horrific deaths.
The investigation continues into what prompted one car to drive the wrong way on a busy highway. And fire officials continue their investigation into the condo fire but days afterward had yet to determine the cause.
Neither tragedy had to happen, but they did.
Such events bring grief to families and friends, but they certainly touch whole communities. When things like this happen, many in the community put aside what by comparison are petty concerns to express their concern for the hurting.
Children and others brought stuffed animals and balloons to the entrance of the condo property for a makeshift memorial. Some kids gave up their own treasured stuffed animals in memorializing the youngsters.
Funds were quickly set up to aid the families of the young victims. We’ll never know what other acts of kindness have been or still will be extended.
Ours is a society that can be very impersonal and uncaring. Sadly, it sometimes takes a massive tragedy — or tragedies — to help remind us that when one or more in a community hurt, sometimes we all hurt.
At our best, we care for each other and take pains to express our love and concern.
Bill Webb is editor of Word & Way.