Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Atlas Fraley Update

We still don't know the cause of Atlas Fraley's death.
But that doesn't mean we have to find someone to blame it on.
While we must be careful not to assume too much, I think it's fairly safe to assume, at this point, that Fraley had a medical condition that no one knew about.

When a young person dies in such a mysterious way, it's a natural human thing to respond to it with a lot of questions, and a lot of anger. I don't blame anyone for being angry. I confess, I am guilty of the same thing myself.

On Wednesday, March 18, the day after St. Patrick's Day, I saw about 15 seconds worth of news coverage on TV about the newly released statement from the medical examiner. I was quite disturbed that the autopsy findings were "inconclusive." (Is someone trying to cover his butt?)

Going online, nothing new in there either. I check again Thursday and Friday, and it's more news articles that say the same old thing. All of them are very short, just a few sentences, none of them telling us anything we didn't already know.

I am ready to scream, "What the hell's going on?" while visions of angry mobs dance through my head.

Then on Saturday, March 21, I find this in the News & Observer.


Kudos to staff writer Jesse James DeConto, for having the sensitivity to respond to everyone's nagging questions.
Why was he left alone?
Why weren't his parents notified?
Why wasn't he taken to the hospital?
Finally, we get some answers.
The next thing I know, I find myself developing a whole new perspective.

So I was about to write this up, when I get yet another incoming angry message.
But this one isn't a message attacking the Orange County 911 Emergency Medical Service, but one defending them, with every bit as much anger.
A reader says that I shouldn't need to be reminded that our EMS is very dedicated to saving lives and aiding the injured, and they deserve a whole lot more credit than they are getting.

I was pretty knocked back by this. I need some time to recover, and to decide how to respond. Until then, all the angry messages I've received were directed against the EMS. Feeling defensive, I want to know why this reader thinks it's my fault the EMS is under fire. I want to fire back, but I have to think about it instead.

I know someone who works as a dispatcher for 911. In the wee hours of the morning during March of last year, I received a message saying Chapel Hill Police have found a dead body of a young white female, in the Hillcrest area of Chapel Hill. This was later identified as the body of Eve Carson. How thankful I should be to have people who can deliver important news to me, before the news media has time to write it up.

Gee, I guess I do owe them something.

I did not know Atlas Fraley, but since last August I have read a lot about him, and have heard a lot about him from people I have met. I am under the impression that this young man was a big lovable bear with a great big heart that was just so full of love for everyone. I don't think he would be too happy to see us slinging mud at each other in his wake, especially over something that happened that no one could see coming.

There was this guy named Jesus who said,
"Blessed are the peace makers..."
It must be worth a try, don't you think?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

History of St. Pat's Day

A 7th grade teacher of mine said there are 2 kinds of people in this world:
"The Irish, and those who wish they were Irish."
Before I came to North Carolina, I used to believe it was true.

You can always count on me to remember March 17.
(Did I mention my mother's maiden name was O'Bryan?)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Remembering Eve Carson

Remembering Eve Carson
From WRAL.com

Posted: Mar. 5, 2009
Updated: Mar. 5, 2009

Eve Carson, the slain University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president, was a Tar Heel through and through.

She loved Carolina basketball, going to Franklin Street and playing intramural sports. Friends say James Taylor's "Carolina in My Mind" was one of her favorite songs.

As a student leader and prestigious Morehead-Cain scholar, she personified what retired UNC Chancellor James Moeser last year called "the Carolina spirit." She was "compassionate, inclusive in her dealings with everyone … fairness, justice and tolerance."

The biology and political science major found time to tutor and teach science at a local elementary school. On summer breaks, she studied in Havana and volunteered in Ecuador, Egypt and Ghana.

Carson's enthusiasm for community service was contagious, friends say, and so was her ability to get people involved. Friends say that she was ready to conquer the world.

"Just whatever she was going to do, she was going to be great just being herself," said UNC junior Katherine Novinski, a Morehead-Cain scholar whom Carson mentored.

Instead, the world has come to know her in a much different way.

The 22-year-old native of Athens, Ga., was kidnapped at her campus rental house in the early morning of March 5, 2008, robbed, shot and killed in a neighborhood near the UNC campus.

Two men – Demario James Atwater and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. – face state and federal charges in connection with her death, which Chapel Hill police have called a random act of violence.

The crime sent shockwaves through the university community, which hadn't experienced a tragedy of such magnitude since 1995, when a law school student went on a shooting rampage and killed two people.

Within hours of hearing of Carson's death, thousands gathered on campus for a memorial service and a candlelight vigil.

"Something happened that day at UNC," said junior Hogan Medlin, also a Morehead-Cain scholar whom Carson mentored. "It was a literal coming together of the student body."

One year later, UNC is turning its grief into action, having already started a scholarship in Carson's honor – the first recipient was named last month – as well as a variety of other projects.

At a remembrance on Thursday, Chancellor Holden Thorpe will ask students, faculty and staff to give back to the community during the month of March.

"What matters most is who did you inspire? Where did you make your mark in this world?" Medlin said. "Eve made her mark, and it's evident in every person you can talk to."

Lisa and Emily Martin are living Carson's legacy of service. The women and about 80 other students will spend spring break in New Orleans. They plan to rebuild communities still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

“Eve Carson made a big difference on this campus. You can tell by the people who were affected by her death. So, I think it's really cool how we have the opportunity to make a difference in society as well as she did,” said Emily Martin, UNC student.

“I think it speaks about her life and what she meant to do,” said Lisa Martin, UNC student.

Carson's family has grieved privately, but her younger brother has taken on a very public cause that started before she died.

Andrew Carson helped produce an award-winning documentary called "Darius Goes West," which has sold nearly 22,000 copies and raised more than $1.5 million for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research. The goal is to sell 1 million DVDs in one year.

The film follows the quest of 15-year-old muscular dystrophy patient Darius Weems, who sets off on a cross-country quest to get MTV's "Pimp My Ride" to customize his wheelchair. Along the way, Weems touches the lives of those he meets and shares his story.

Friends say Eve Carson encouraged the project.

"She would take the time to ask you the questions that others wouldn't ask," Medlin said. "She would meet you and immediately ask you what your passions are."

Thursday's remembrance begins in The Pit on the UNC campus at 4 p.m. with music starting at 3:45 p.m. It is expected to last about 30 minutes and feature remarks by Thorp and a performance by student a cappella group, The Clef Hangers.

"For many of us, the loss of Eve Carson continues to occupy our thoughts," Thorp said. "This ceremony gives us a chance to remember and celebrate Eve together after a difficult year."

Also on Thursday evening, friends will gather at Carson's alma mater, Clarke Central High School in Athens, for a moment of silence.

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