A Different Kind of School Tragedy

Last week, before the terrible school shooting that took place in Florida on Valentine’s Day, one day before that devastating loss of 17 image-bearers of God, we suffered a school tragedy at my kids’ school, too. It was a different kind of school tragedy, but still devastating.

I was sitting at a Starbucks working when a “robo call” from my kids school interrupted me. I ALWAYS answer those, and I’ll admit I panic a bit when I see one…so I picked up the phone, only to find out my panic was justified this time. I heard the Head of School say, “I have some very sad news…” and my heart dropped. He went on to say that on the way to school that morning, a child I did not know and had not heard of, had died in a car accident. A 16-year-old sophomore, he was behind the wheel, and the only one in the car. For some reason his car went left of center and hit another head on.

I did not know that child existed until I heard he was gone.

And yet, I packed up my work stuff, got in my car, and wept.

Because in our school community, when one hurts, we all hurt. And I hurt for this boy’s mother and father, his siblings, his FRIENDS, who the principal told us, CRIED OUT in the assembly where they were told of his loss.

The memorial fellow students made for 16-year-old Tommy Williamitis the day after his death. Photo: Dayton Christian School/Facebook

It brought back fresh grief of another child at our school who was killed in a car accident just eleven months ago, driving home from school. A girl, this time. Alexis. Tommy and Alexis. I wept for them both, for their families and peers. Two in one year from our small school, it’s TOO MUCH. It’s too much.

And then, Valentine’s Day. Ash Wednesday.

Seventeen more in Florida. Seventeen. And doesn’t murder, cold-blooded, PLANNED murder make it all the more tragic?


Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson
Jenny is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor.

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