Community rallied after awful crash

Warren City Schools Superintendent Michael Notar set the tone Sunday afternoon when he opened Willard School for people in the community to comfort each other after one of the worst tragedies Trumbull County has experienced.

The outpouring that has followed since serves to reassure local residents about the sense of community that exists here. The overwhelming support will help strengthen the families who have suffered this terrible loss and gives the rest of us confidence that we will not be alone should tragedy befall us.

The heartbreak is immeasurable. Six young people among eight in an SUV drowned Sunday morning when the driver lost control, and the vehicle landed upside down in a pond off Niles-Warren River Road. Even for the two survivors, life will be forever altered. It will, too, for the Warren firefighters whose heroic effort resulted in the emotional trauma of having pulled six bodies from a murky pond, in vain.

Also immeasurable is the good will that has poured forth in the aftermath. Notar’s decision to immediately foster communal grieving began the healing. Financial support continues to trickle into the ”Gifts for Our Children” bank account created to assist the six families. Anonymously, donations came in to pay the expenses for each of the accident victims’ cemetery plots while Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods in Canfield donated six caskets and Anointed Publications Inc., printed the funeral programs for free. Hundreds of others, such as Katrina Rogers of Warren who donated $60 to the account, are adding to the cause.

”I had to do something,” Rogers said. ”I have a child. I can only imagine what their parents are going through. It is not much, but I wanted to do something.”

Rogers speaks for so many.

From all walks of life, from all points of the region, from all ages, people have responded. Of particular importance is the emotional support that comes from the number of people who participated in candlelight vigils, who have visited the scene and who have laid mementos there.

Perhaps one of the best gestures came Thursday night when more than 100 people took part in a spontaneous march from Willard, where most of the victims attended or previously attended school, to the accident site.

Questions remain about the circumstances surrounding the crash. Authorities may very well uncover some unpleasant answers. But what’s really important is that this community has demonstrated that no matter what facts we learn there is one constant – life was snuffed too early for 14-year-old Brandon A. Murray, 14-year-old Andreque L. Bennett, 15-year-old Kirklan M. Behner, 15-year-old Ramone J. White, 15-year-old Daylan T. Ray and 19-year-old Alexis S. Cayson, so we must all be there for their families.