Wednesday, November 17, 1999

5 lives cut short recalled at vigil

Ross residents mourn tragedies

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ROSS TOWNSHIP Hundreds of small flickering lights symbolizing the hope, promise and potential of lives cut short by tragedy covered the Ross High School football field Tuesday night.

        “Whenever a young person dies, all the parents in the parish start to think it could be their son or daughter,” said the Rev. Ken Schoettmer of Queen of Peace Catholic Church. “The larger community will get over it. But there will always be members who remain affected by it —— parents, friends, best friends.”

        Since June, this rural Butler County community has suffered the loss of four students to various mishaps. On Tuesday, a candlelight vigil organized by religious leaders was held to help provide closure.

        On Aug. 20, Ross High students Adam Brinkman, 17, and Scott King, 16, members of the Rams football team, died in a single-car crash on Kirchling Road after practice.

        On Sept. 7, Missy Boling, 16, a Ross High School junior, and her grandfather, Robert Sandlin, 70, of Hamilton were killed after their car was struck head-on by a drunken driver.

        Last month, a fourth student, an eighth-grader who attended Ross Middle School, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

        “The deaths ... took a toll on this community. We want to wrap our arms of love together and try to restore hope and confidence. We want to try to take away some of the hurt,” said the Rev. Johnny Wade Sloan, pastor of the Hamilton Christian Center.

        It is the first time the churches in Ross have done a project together. The idea came from the Rev. Mr. Sloan and Father Schoettmer, and was expanded to include Venice Presbyterian Church, Ross Christian Church and Ross United Methodist Church.

        Lynne Briggs of Hamilton turned up Tuesday to show support for the Brinkman family.

        “It's very overwhelming to think that the Ross community has lost that many people. This is not just about the athletes and a cheerleader, but also about a grandfather,” she said.

        Patrice Lyttle of Ross hoped that the ceremony would bring the peace that the community needs. Her 14-year-old son, Jeff, and her 20-year-old daughter, Jill, knew some of the students.

        “It's reminded them that life is uncertain and bad things happen to good people,” she said. “We're taking something bad and turning it into something good. I hope that this reminds people of the hope we have in Christ and that we can join together as one community and remember four really special kids and a very special man.”

        After the ceremony, more than 500 people gathered on the football field, where the lights were turned off and candles were lit.

        Enquirer reporter Rachel Melcer and contributor Sue Kiesewetter contributed to this report.


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