Church leaders: Lean on loved ones in wake of tragedy

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012 @ 8:02 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 22, 2012 @ 8:02 PM

Area church leaders on Sunday said the best way to deal with a tragedy like Friday’s shooting at a movie theater in Colorado which claimed the life of Springfield native Matt McQuinn is to spend time with loved ones and remember that God has a plan for our lives.

“There’s no better a reminder than an incident like this that life is short,” said Fellowship Church youth and campus pastor Jeremy Hudson, who developed a friendship with McQuinn while they were both members at Maiden Lane Church of God.

McQuinn, a Vandalia Butler High School graduate, his girlfriend, Sam Yowler, formerly of St. Paris, and her brother, Nick Yowler, also formerly of St. Paris, all attended a midnight screening of the “Dark Knight Rises” on Friday at a suburban Denver cinema in Aurora where a lone gunman entered the theater, threw gas canisters and opened fire on the crowd. He killed 12 people, including McQuinn who spent his last moments shielding his girlfriend from the bullets. There were 58 peole injured in one of the deadliest shootings in United States history.

In a time like this, Hudson said, it’s best to not let things go unsaid or unresolved with family members.

“There’s unsettled business in each one of us where we could stand to pick up the phone or go knock on a door and clear the air,” said Hudson, who had just run into McQuinn at Chipotle in Springfield a few months ago.

Tim Cary, worship pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church, said residents should rely on God in these times of need.

Cary also had a small connection to the shooting. He recently started following Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring sportscaster who also went by the name Jessica Redfield, on Twitter and saw her tweet about going to see the midnight showing. The next morning, he was shocked to hear she was one of 12 killed in the shooting along with McQuinn. Ghawi had recently survived shootings at a mall in Toronto last month.

Cary said hearing the news about Ghawi, who he only knew through social media, was an eye-opener.

“It was one of a bunch of tweets (about the movie), probably hundreds,” Cary said. “I remember reading that, and for me personally, you have to stop and realize that life is a vapor. We have plans and ideas and hopes and goals and dreams of what our lives are going to be, and we never really know where our next breath is going to come from.”

Two of McQuinn’s former band mates and friends said he exuded a lighthearted spirit even in the midst of having a bad day. Mark A. Robey, 29, of New Carlisle, and Aaron J. Snow, 29, of Springfield, said they all met at a youth study group at Maiden Lane Church in Springfield where they played together in a worship team band. McQuinn played bass guitar. Robey and Snow played the drums.

“He was always a happy guy,” Robey said. “There wasn’t a time where we got together that he wasn’t laughing. Even on bad days, when he was having a bad day, he would find the joy and laugh and lighten the mood.

“He was always thinking about other people,” Robey said. “He would drop anything he was doing to spend time with his friends.”

Aaron J. Snow, 29, of Springfield, similarly described McQuinn.

“Matt was a goofball,” Snow said. “He always had something funny to say, (he was) a guy to laugh with. One of those people to lighten the mood regardless of the situation.”

The two would spend hours talking and stay up playing video games into the “wee hours of the morning,” Snow said.

“He was a very good guy,” he said. “One of my closest friends. I don’t have very many, and he was definitely one of those.”

“That’s just where our friendship between all three of us got real solid,” Robey said.

Robey and Snow said they weren’t surprised by reports McQuinn used his body to shield Samantha during the tragedy.

“Matt definitely died a hero protecting Sam,” Snow said. “That’s definitely Matt, too. Didn’t surprise me when I heard that. He’ll drop everything if you need (him) to be with you.”

“I think when Matt had his mind set on something, he would do it, and if it involved a friend, or family member or someone he cared about, he would step up to the plate and help out,” Robey said. “I would say he definitely died a hero.”

Hudson said church officials from all walks of faith are ready to help area residents make sense of the tragedy.

“All it takes is the effort to reach out,” Hudson said.

Warren Co. teen suffers serious injuries following dog attack

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 1:16 PM

Warren County Chief Dog Warden, Nathan Harper, right, and Deputy Dog Warden, Eric Hancock, keep a close eye on Warren County strays. Jim Noelker/Dayton Daily News
Warren County Chief Dog Warden, Nathan Harper, right, and Deputy Dog Warden, Eric Hancock, keep a close eye on Warren County strays. Jim Noelker/Dayton Daily News

UPDATE @ 2:11 p.m.

The father of a Warren County teen bitten by a dog said his daughter is at Kettering Emergency Center in Franklin with a serious hand injury. 

Rehea Burnett, 16, suffered a severe laceration to her left wrist that may require a hand specialist, according to her father Joshua Burnett. 

Burnett told our newsroom his father owns the dog that attacked his daughter. He said the same dog attacked him years ago. 

"This has been a long, embroiled family issue [...] I've got scars and marks around my right knee from when [the dog] bit me," Burnett said. 

Burnett said he lives with his 16-year-old daughter at the Ridgeville home where she was attacked Saturday morning. 

Burnett said his father, who lives in Waynesville, was at the house with the dog while picking up items for a family member. 

Doctors told Burnett they are concerned about nerve damage his daughter may have sustained in the attack. 

Burnett said the Warren County dog warden has begun an investigation.

EARLIER REPORT (Sept. 23)

Police are responding to a Ridgeville home after a teen was reportedly bitten by a pit bull Saturday afternoon. 

Crews were sent to the 6400 block of West Street after a caller reported a 16-year-old girl had suffered a dog bite. 

Initial reports indicate a family member is driving the teen to the hospital while the dog warden is called to the house. 

The teen's injuries have been described as significant, according to scanner traffic. 

Initial reports indicate the dog has attacked a family member in the past. 

Our newsroom is working to confirm multiple details in this developing story.

GOT A TIP? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

Medics requested at scene of Xenia crash involving fire response vehicle

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 12:43 PM

Police and medics are responding to the scene of an injury crash involving a fire response vehicle Saturday morning.

Crews were dispatched to the intersection of West Second Street and Progress Drive around 12:25 p.m. 

Initial reports indicate a medic has been called to the scene for an injured patient. 

Dispatchers could not confirm if the injured person was in the fire response vehicle. 

Traffic in the area is currently being rerouted, according to dispatchers. 

We will continue to follow updates in this developing story.

GOT A TIP? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

Family of Springfield woman found in crashed car looks for answers

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 8:00 PM

The family of a Springfield woman found dead in a crashed car last week says they have a lot of questions about what caused her death.

Chelsea Marie Dowler, 27, was found in a 1993 Dodge Dakota on Sept. 14. The car left the roadway and struck a tree before coming to rest in Delaware County’s Kingston Twp. north of Columbus, according to the Delaware Post of the State Highway Patrol, but it’s unclear when the crash happened.

She had been missing for nearly four weeks, according to her brother, Tyler Dowler.

“It’s definitely a little bit easier than not knowing,” Tyler Dowler said. “Not knowing was the worst.”

The family had filed a missing person report with the Springfield Police Department, he said, and had handed out flyers and made posts online asking for information about his sister.

“It gives us a little bit of relief knowing that she’s not in pain anymore,” he said. “She’s not suffering.”

But he said he wants more answers.

“Did she wreck? Did someone force her to wreck? Was it drugs? We’d like to know,” he said.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing, said Lt. Bob Sellers with the Delaware Post of the State Highway Patrol.

Chelsea Dowler leaves behind two sons, a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old. Tyler Dowler and his girlfriend are now the guardians of the boys.

RELATED: Springfield woman found in crashed car may have died weeks ago

“Things are finally starting to come together a little bit. I think they’re happy,” Tyler Dowler said. “They don’t want to go anywhere.”

She struggled with drug addiction, he said, but was a good mother.

“She was loving you know, she had her problems as most of us do,” he said.

He wants the boys to remember their mom for the good times they shared.

“The times where their mom did nothing but make them smile,” he said, “because she would, she would do anything in her power to make them smile.”

The Springfield Police Division has closed its missing person investigation, according to Capt. Mike Varner.

The family is still in the process of making funeral arrangements.

Springboro police chief serves as chaplain during hurricane recovery

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 10:00 AM


            Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithof photographed the devastation from Hurricane Harvey in the area around Rockport, Texas.
Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithof photographed the devastation from Hurricane Harvey in the area around Rockport, Texas.

For two weeks, Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff offered a sympathetic ear and other assistance to first responders in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

More than 80 people died and countless injuries reported as Harvey flooded and leveled coastal and inland communities after making landfall with winds of 130 mph at Rockport, Texas, on Aug. 25.

Over the next five days, the storm flooded hundreds of thousands of homes, leaving more than 30,000 people homeless and prompting more than 17,000 rescues.

In Rockport, Kruithoff and another chaplain with law enforcement experience “debriefed” police, fire, ambulance and dispatch workers scrambling to help all the victims.

“We were really able to help a lot of people process the storm,” Kruithoff said.

“Dispatchers were terribly affected,” he recalled, sitting in the conference room at city hall. “They can’t do anything if they don’t have anyone to dispatch.”

MORE: 3rd graders read to help Hurricane Harvey victims

Kruithoff was among 60 Rapid Response Chaplains sent to the disaster by Billy Graham Ministries.

The program developed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and since then, the chaplains have used their special training to assist in more than 260 crises around the world.

They bring to bear “the compassion of Jesus Christ” and “the ability to listen,” said Scott Holmquist of the North Carolina-based ministries.

MORE: Wright-Patt crews help Texas rescue efforts

“They are in the mix,” Holmquist added, gauging where those they are helping are in processing “grief due to loss.”

Kruithoff was on the ground amid the catastrophe from Aug. 29 to Sept. 10.

It was his second deployment, after supporting workers with Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian aid founded by Franklin Graham in recovery efforts after floods in Ripley County, Miss.

Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, now heads the organization’s web of faith-based programs.

MORE: How to help Hurricane Harvey victims

Kruithoff estimated he prayed with 25 to 50 workers and victims a day, in addition to engaging individuals in talks designed to allow them to work through traumatic stress that comes with experiencing such a disaster.

“We don’t come in and hit them with a Bible over the head,” he said. “We let them tell their story.”

The cathartic process typically takes five to nine such talks, Kruithoff said.

“We want people to remember the incident, but not relive the incident,” he said.

In addition, chaplains encourage those traumatized to find several things they liked before the storm, maybe golf or going for a walk, but to move on, rather than expect to return to life as before the storm.

“There’s a new reality,” he said, adding the chaplains also encourage healthy habits, including eating and drinking enough, and help work through sleep problems.

With permission, the chaplains end sessions with a prayer.

Kruithoff and Holmquist acknowledged the program offers a chance to rededicate lives to Christ.

“We will never take advantage of people,” Holmquist said. “We will use the circumstance to meet them at their place of need.”

During his Texas work, Kruithoff listened to firefighters recalling walls of their station move six to eight inches.

“They had to tie their bay doors to their fire trucks so they didn’t blow out,” he said.

Kruithoff rented a car and began driving to Houston after evacuation centers were opened there.

“I had to take some detours because of flooded roads,” he said.

At one point, he disregarded GPS directions to turn down a gravel road between Corpus Christi and Houston.

Luckily, he soon came upon a trucker who he followed “until we got to a state highway.”

In Houston, Kruithoff presented a Bible to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and coordinated the “faith response” to the police department and sheriff’s office.

MORE: Houston perserveres through immense loss

During line-ups at shift openings, Kruithoff would offer a prayer for officers about to go out onto the storm-ravaged streets.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen police, regardless of their spiritual faith, turning down a prayer going into a shift,” he said.

Kruithoff is part of a new group of chaplains with law-enforcement experience in the program.

When asked about the apparent contrast between police and religious work, Kruithoff said, “There were only two things I was going to be in my life, a minister or a policeman.”

Still, he acknowledged the two frames of reference sometimes conflict, placing obstacles in the way of his “faith walk.”

As Kruithoff worked in Houston, Springboro officials expressed their support and gratitude during a Sept. 7 city council meeting.

MORE: Hurricane response delays Springboro intersection work

“We commend him, we thank him and we’ve been communicating with him so that he stays safe,” City Manager Christine Thompson said.

Mayor John Agenbroad added, “That’s what America is all about, helping out when somebody’s down.”