Officer David Rigney touched many lives
By Shaun Tilghman
News Editor – North Manchester News-Journal
Just over a week has passed since the accident that claimed the life of North Manchester Police Officer David Rigney, and in the wake of tragedy, communities across Wabash County have joined together not only in mourning the loss, but also in celebrating his life.
The 39-year-old LaFontaine native was off-duty when the crash occurred last Monday afternoon. Rigney was heading south on State Road 15 when his SUV fishtailed and crossed into the northbound lane, where it was struck by a school bus, before returning to the southbound lane and being struck by another vehicle – he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sgt. Brian Enyeart, a veteran of the North Manchester Police Department, said the loss was devastating on many different levels.
“People outside of law enforcement don’t understand the bond that law enforcement officers have – it’s more than just as coworkers or even friends, we truly are ‘brothers in blue’,” Enyeart said. “There is a lot of stuff that is easier to talk about with other officers than with other people, because they just don’t understand. With Dave, you always knew if you needed anything you could call him and he would be there to help you out.”
by Gary Andrews
Not only did the Wabash Lady Apache basketball team open their 2014-15 season with an impressive 60-44 win over Mississinewa Friday; they got to be part of history as senior Claire Cromer went off for 42 points to set the Wabash single game scoring record.
The Lady Apaches dominated right from the start, jumping out to an 11-0 lead and leading 14-4 after the end of the quarter. Claire Cromer had all 14 points for Wabash.
Mississinewa would cut the Wabash lead to 16-10 early in the second quarter before Shelby Stone buried two shots from behind the arch to build the lead to 22-10. The Indians again cut the lead to single digits before Cromer drained back-to-back three’s, then hit four straight free throws to increase the lead to 31-18. At 31-22 Cromer would hit a shot before the buzzer as Wabash led 33-22 at the half.
Kristin Cromer and Sarah Puckett would get in on the scoring action in the third while Claire Cromer kept rolling as the Lady Apaches built their lead to 45-25 before leading 45-26 after three.
Claire Cromer would hit a three to get the Wabash scoring going in the fourth as sister Kristin hit two free throws as Wabash rolled to a 60-44 win.
Claire Cromer led the way with 42 points. Shelby Stone and Kristin Cromer added 6 points each, Sarah Puckett 4, Katie McCauley 2.
By Bill Barrows
Periodically, I have the privilege to witness heartwarming and amazing things that happen in the course of my daily activities in youth sports at the Wabash County YMCA. This week, I watched as a young man took a huge step forward on a long road back to regaining his health.
Jace Randel’s parents, Jason and Amanda, registered him to play 4th & 5th grade tackle football in August. Jace expected to play with a number of his classmates on the Cowboys team this fall while learning some life lessons along the way. He had no idea the roller coaster ride he had in front of him.
”On Aug. 20 (ironically, the same day as the first football practice) Jace began not feeling well. I took him in to his pediatrician after a few days of stomach pain. He ordered blood work, just to be sure it wasn’t an appendicitis. The blood work came back abnormal,” explained Amanda.
After consulting with their pediatrician, the Randels prepared for a trip to Riley Hospital.
“The Pediatrician explained to us that Jace's blood work had come back abnormal, and after consulting with a few Riley Oncologists, they thought Jace had leukemia.” Amanda continued, “We were being sent to Riley to run more blood work and prepare him for a bone marrow biopsy.” Jason & Amanda told their son what this meant; Jace was crushed.
“I told him that we were NOT putting our faith and trust into one test. We would be putting our faith in God who, we KNEW, could do anything!!” She explained, “What a calming affect that can have on a person, to know WHO is in control and WHO is all powerful,”
The blood work at Riley came back inconclusive. Jace received a platelets transfusion in order to perform the biopsy to prevent excessive bleeding. He had an allergic reaction to the platelet transfusion. Instantly, he began to break out in hives and his throat started swelling. After giving him large doses of Benadryl, he was finally able to sleep. The biopsy came back negative. Several other tests were run, for conditions such as; mono, autoimmune markers, and vitamin deficiencies, and all came back normal. Normal was a relative term. Jace wasn’t getting any worse, but was also wasn’t getting any better either.
by Gary Andrews
The Southwood VolleyKnights had one last game scheduled for the year Saturday and it was the state championship. The Lady Knights had won nine straight games to win the sectional, then defeated Clinton Central 3-0 for the regional title. Last Saturday Southwood won the very tough Bremen semi state by topping Adams Central 3-1 and Hammond Bishop Noll 3-2 for the semi state title. Saturday at Ball State the VolleyKnights had the task of taking on defending state champion Providence for the state title.
Southwood, the 2A public school state champion hung tough, but the power hitting of Providence ended up being too much as the VolleyKnights fell 17-25, 14-25, 18-25.
Providence got off to a 10-3 start in game one before the Knights shook off the championship jitters and started to go to work. Emilie Harnish would get a kill and Bailey Lundmark a block during a 5-0 run to close the gap to 10-8. Providence would then score 10 of the next 14 points to open a 24-15 lead before two Sami White tips kept the game alive, but one last Pioneer kill ended game one 17-25.
Southwood jumped out to a 4-0 lead to start game two with Sami White serving. Kaitlyn Murphy had a kill with White scoring on an ace and a tip. Bailey Hobbs would get a kill as the Knights extended their lead to 8-3 before the Pioneer’s got hot. Providence would score 6 of the next 7 points to tie the game at 9 before a White tip and an Emilie Harnish ace made it 11-9. With Southwood up 12-10 the sleeping giant awoke as Providence went on a 10-1 run to grab a 20-13 lead on their way to the 25-14 final.
by Emily Armentrout
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. Southwood High School recently held a convocation for their students on abusive relationships. Speakers Laura Craig, an abuse survivor, and Debbie Norris, mother of Heather Norris, who was brutally murdered by an abusive boyfriend in 2007, were on hand to tell of their experiences with abuse.
Laura Craig is currently a nursing student at Indiana Wesleyan. Her story began when she was 16. Like most teenage girls, she started dating a guy who “started out nice. He was very flattering and supportive, but he started to become controlling.” Craig told the students she was never physically abused but the psychological pain began manifesting itself outwardly.
“I stopped eating. I lost 15 pounds in three months. I wore baggy sweatpants all the time, and I didn’t wash my hair for days. You could see circles under my eyes,” Craig told The Paper.
Craig shared that she had become suicidal. She began cutting herself and actually attempted to kill herself. Finally, she reached a point where she decided to fight back, which she said her boyfriend did not like.
“I was diagnosed with depression and fibromyalgia,” Craig said. “I could see my parents and friends were hurting. I had reached rock bottom, my breaking point. There wasn’t just one moment. I started fighting back and standing up for myself, and regaining the life I had lost. He didn’t like that, so he broke up with me about six months before our wedding.”
Craig shared that her Christian faith was a big part of her turning point and also the reason behind wanting to share her story with other teens. “God has so much work and I want to do more of His work in my life, and I could not do that in this relationship.”
“I prayed, thinking, ‘Lord, if I can help one person not go through what I went through, then all my pain will be worth it. If I can help one person to realize they are in a bad relationship and they are loved by a lot of people, then it’s all worth it,’” Craig said.
Debbie Norris, like Craig, believes that sharing her story is important and has the same hope that her tragedy can save the life of another.
Norris’ daughter Heather started dating a guy close to the end of her senior year in high school. She had been accepted at Indiana University and had her whole life ahead of her, until everything changed.
Norris says she knew from the beginning of the relationship that the boyfriend was not a good person. “I knew something wasn’t right about their relationship. He never wanted to come in the house. He would either pull into the driveway and she would go out to meet him or she would just leave and meet him somewhere else.”
Norris explained that Heather didn’t tell her for a long time that her boyfriend had been abusing her. At Heather’s request, her mother did nothing because all Heather wanted was to forget it had ever happened. “I ask myself today why I gave into that and all I can say is that I love Heather,” Norris said.
Norris went on to tell the students how the beatings continued, and how Heather finally decided she had had enough. The boyfriend was arrested, but made attempts to persuade Heather to drop the charges. Another beating followed, which she hid from her mother for days.
“It’s important that you know when she was with him, she was a totally different person. She wasn’t the happy go lucky girl that everybody knew,” explained Norris. “She would be so upset she couldn’t eat. She didn’t go anywhere. She distanced herself from her friends and family.”
“I’ll never understand what happened that afternoon when Heather walked out our front door, never to come home again. I didn’t know it then, but that was the day my life would change forever,” Norris said.
At 20, Heather was living at home after leaving college due to missing so much class time. She didn’t hold a job because her boyfriend didn’t want her to have a job or make new friends. From the day Heather left, she would keep in contact with her mother, but when that changed, Norris knew something wasn’t right.
When the police arrived at the door, Norris had family staying with her.
“We saw headlights and what looked like a police car. I worked at a police department; I thought one of my friends was checking on me until I saw our missing persons lieutenant and our chaplain.”
To this day Norris still struggles remembering much about the day she found out about Heather’s murder. “The one thing I remember is my cousin coming over, sitting in front of me and holding my hands, telling me that she wanted me to hear from her what happened to Heather before I read it in the paper or saw it on the news,” Norris told the students.
“He stabbed her, and then he took her body and stuffed her in a trash can. He poured gasoline on her and set her on fire. That wasn’t enough. He took a chainsaw and he cut her up in pieces. He put her in black trash bags and drove around the south side of Indianapolis, throwing her in dumpsters,” Norris tearfully explained.
Norris began pleading with the students in the audience. “You’re all at the age where you start to think you can handle everything on your own. Heather was like that, but where is Heather now? So here I am, standing before all of you, in hopes that I can make you understand, because Heather would want that,” Norris said.
“In telling her story, Heather lives on. She believed she was put on this earth to help people. By me being here today, she lives on,” added Norris.
Norris began telling the story of Heather’s murder not long after the tragedy happened. She believes Heather spoke to her one day, letting her mom know that she needed to share her story, that she was in fact “Heather’s voice,” which is how Norris’ webpage got its name.
Heathersvoice.net is a resource site that Norris set up for teens that are in abusive relationships. In an interview, Norris offered up advice for parents who think their teens could be involved in an abusive relationship.
“Talk to your kids; know where they are, what they are doing. I’ve had a mother come to me and say she has talked to her daughter until she was blue in the face. She couldn’t do it anymore. I looked at her and said, ‘What if something happens to your daughter? Is that what you want to do? You want to walk away from your child because you’re frustrated and you don’t know what to do?’ I told her to sit with her, talk to her. You never give up. You always let her know you are there,” Norris told The Paper.
Norris’ advice for all parents is to be involved, be in the know about what your kids are doing, and know the signs of abuse. Heather distanced herself from everyone. Her education was put on the back burner, her health and appearance deteriorated. For teens, she warns against falling for the phrases abusers use the most. “I’m sorry,” “I’ve changed,” “It’ll never happen again,” and “I love you.”
“They mean nothing,” Norris said.
Norris and Craig both share their stories with students to bring light to a very serious problem with today’s youth, in hopes of saving a teen’s life and keeping parents from ever having to go through the pain Norris and her family went through after losing Heather.