Sarah Stultz: Community helps many endure challenges

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

I was taking photos at a car cruise for the class of 1973 Friday evening when I started receiving text messages from our sports columnist that there had been a crash involving a car and a bicyclist.

I didn’t know until I arrived at the scene and talked to someone from a nearby business that the bicyclist was a child.

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At that time, police and firefighters were the only ones remaining, and young 11-year-old Ayden Brackey had already been taken to the hospital.

I knew the outcome was not favorable, and I could feel my heart begin to sink.

I called our publisher, Crystal, about what had happened, explaining to her what I had heard so far, and before we hung up with each other, she asked me if I was OK.

I’m sure she saw through my response of “I’m fine,” and the memories that had come flooding back of seven years prior with my own daughter, Sophie, who died in a similar way.

For a few moments I thought about the harrowing drive from my friend’s house where I was that morning to the scene of her crash, of the ride in the ambulance with Sophie to the hospital and then being in the hospital with my husband as we watched all of the nurses and doctors in the emergency room try to save her before she slipped away. Ayden’s family was going through that very same thing at that very same moment.

These are memories that are very difficult and very real and that I try to not dwell on if I can help it. Every once in a while, though, something in everyday life or through my job triggers them, and the memories get brought to light again. And it stings.

This week, I have tried to shake off these thoughts and instead shift my thoughts to the family of this sweet boy.

I remember all the love and support we received from the community in the days and weeks that followed Sophie’s death, and I hoped the community would do the same for his family.

I have been touched all over again to see the community open its arms in love to Ayden’s family. I hope it continues, as the support will be needed for months, if not years, to come.

To the parents of Ayden, I am so very sorry that you are having to endure this. It is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

While it is not an easy path, remember there are many who are willing to walk beside you and share your burdens.

I hope you can also hold on to knowing that we can one day be reunited with our beautiful children.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.