Cathi C

Recently, I've started reading to my wife while we're lying in bed before we go to sleep. We recently read a book by R. T. Kendall called "Total Forgiveness." It may be difficult to forgive when someone hurts us, but what about someone that causes the death of one of our children? According to Dr. Kendall, in order to receive total forgiveness of our sins, we have to totally forgive someone of their trespasses against us.

On July 20, 2007 at 4:45 PM, I arrived at the Sheriff's Civil Office at the Marion County Judicial Center in Ocala, FL. I was asked by my sergeant to handle a child custody order that was in another deputy's zone. The residence was approximately 10 miles outside my assigned zone.

While enroute to the residence, I heard the dispatcher trying to make contact with another deputy on the radio who didn't respond right away. I could tell from a voice in the background that something was wrong. I pulled up the dispatch screen on my MDT computer and saw the call where a vehicle had struck and possibly killed a 3-year-old child in the Hunters Trace subdivision. I was two blocks away, so I abandoned the child custody order and responded to the accident scene.

When I turned the corner onto the street where the accident occurred, I saw a car parked in the middle of the road. Two women were kneeling over a child's body that was lying in the roadway. I ran over to where they were. One woman, who I later determined was the 71-year-old lady that hit the child, was upset and crying. The second woman, who appeared to be in her late-20s was doing CPR on the child while she was on the phone with the EMS dispatcher. I knelt on the opposite side of the woman and took over the chest compressions on the child while she handled breathing into the child's mouth. The child was covered in blood.

When the medic unit arrived, one of the paramedics yelled for everyone to get out of the way. She ran and scooped up the child and ran to the ambulance. While the medics were working on resuscitating the child in the ambulance, I turned my attention to the woman who had been doing CPR and asked her if she knew the mother of the child. She had a calm look on her face as she looked into my eyes and told me, "I am the mother." Her child's blood was on her face and her hands as she turned and went back to her house. I saw her on the side of the house using a water spigot to wash off the blood. I walked over towards her and she told me that she still had a 4-year-old child inside the house that she had to check on and asked me if she got all the blood off. I told her that she still had some blood on her upper lip. She wiped it off and went inside the house.

I used the same spigot to wash my hands and the first woman (the driver of the vehicle) did the same thing. I later noticed the driver standing by herself near her car and crying. I went to her and hugged her and tried to reassure her. Eventually, the mother and her 4-year-old son, Chase, came outside to the driveway where we were standing. She stated that she and her son were going to do "prayer hands" and asked if we wanted to join her. She knelt down with her son and we prayed silently. The mother then took Chase inside.

The Florida Highway Patrol arrived to do the accident investigation. I spoke to the paramedic at the ambulance who shook his head and told me that the child wasn't going to make it. I observed one of the child's sandals lying in the street. I again saw the distraught driver standing by herself and crying. The mother came back out of the house. However, instead of going to the ambulance where her son was, she went to where the driver was standing and hugged her in an attempt to console her.

The child, Ethan, was pronounced dead at the hospital. It was his third birthday.

The mother, Cathi, spoke at her son's funeral talking about her memories of him. Many tragedies like this that I've responded to bring out the worst in people. I saw the best come out of Cathi. Her response to her son's death was a source of strength to me and a silent testimony of compassion to everyone who was there.

Submitted by Anonymous


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