• Today's Daily Devotion
“She Died Too Young”
IT WAS a November evening before Thanksgiving when the call came. There had been a fatality about twenty minutes from my home, and could I come? At the crash scene, officers ...

“SHE DIED TOO YOUNG”

Chaplain Don Hipple

Virginia Beach, VA, Police Department

IT WAS a November evening before Thanksgiving when the call came. There had been a fatality about twenty minutes from my home, and could I come? At the crash scene, officers had lights set up and were doing their investigation. It was a two-car crash in which the driver of a small compact car lost control and hit an oncoming vehicle at about 50 miles per hour. The combined force of the two cars was about 90 miles per hour before coming to a complete stop. The smaller car was crushed in on the driver’s side. The driver in the other vehicle had only minor injuries. The sergeant in charge said it would be about fifteen minutes before we could notify the family.

The driver was a beautiful 18-year-old college student. She was running late and was hurrying to get home. An hour before, she was happily enjoying time with a friend; now she was dead. No drugs or alcohol were involved, her air bag deployed, and she was wearing her seat belt—all to no avail. As she lay there, a tarp covered everything except her feet. The image I always will remember was her beautiful feet and neatly polished toenails. A death notification is difficult for all, including law enforcement. When the father saw me and the fatal crash officer, his first comment was, “Don’t tell me Gracie was in an accident.”

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It was so heartbreaking to have to say, “I’m sorry, but your daughter was killed in a collision not far from here.”From then until about 1 a.m. we ministered to him, her mother, and her brother. We answered questions as best we could, then just stood back as they grieved. I knew I couldn’t sleep, so I just rode around until 5 a.m.

A few months later I received a three-page letter from Gracie’s mother that thanked me because “you really seemed to feel our pain through this loss.” Yes, I did, and I still think about it at times. Oh, that we’d never have to do this again, but we will. It’s part of our job.


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