Weekend Column – Saving A Life
I met Stephen Bacho for the first time earlier this week.
I know that sentence leads to a “so what” kind of question, so I’ll elaborate.
I’ve written about Stephen and his family for more than three years. I’ve had countless emails, phone calls and interviews with Natalie, his wife. She went so far as to graciously agreed to be our speaker at the annual National Day of Prayer breakfast a couple of years ago.
But I just never had the opportunity to met Stephen.
I first learned of the Bachos more than three years ago – Dec. 22, 2012, to be exact. That evening, after leaving the Redneck restaurant in downtown Newnan, they were headed back home when a teen driver ran a red light and broadsided their car.
Natalie was driving. Stephen was sitting behind her. Their three girls were one row behind their dad. Abby, nine years old, was sitting behind her dad.
As the following chaos was unfolding, Stephen and Abby were transported to Atlanta area hospitals. Stephen was in an induced coma for four weeks.
Abby died on Christmas Day.
I wrote about the wreck for this newspaper. I wrote about the family deciding to donate Abby’s organs so others could live – and on Christmas no less. I wrote about Stephen not knowing his daughter was dead, and that Natalie was having to make all these decisions.
I have covered more accidental deaths – from drownings to electrocutions than I can remember. I’ve covered even more murders and shootouts. And I’ve covered even more vehicular fatalities.
I’ve seen bodies that look like the person is asleep, without a scratch. I’ve picked up limbs from the roadside. Each accident, in its own way, is horrible. Elderly, teenagers, infants, I’ve written about each of them.
The one involving Abby and her family, for whatever reason, has been the hardest to write about. It’s probably because I continue to follow their story. To this day, everytime I type Abby’s name I have to stop myself from losing it.
I can’t even begin to imagine what remembering Abby does to Stephen and Natalie.
I keep writing about them because Abby’s story did not end that Christmas Day.
The family started the nonprofit Abby’s Angels Foundation in their daughter’s memory. It’s an umbrella organization that already is making major impacts in our community.
There’s an annual 5K Rainbow Run and Family Fun Day held in Abby’s honor.
And then there is Abby’s Closet. It’s a place where students can get school supplies if they can’t afford them. Each year, the family adds more closets and Coweta public schools to the program.
And then there is the teen driving course they sponsor. Partnering with Fear This 4 Life, the Bachos want to make sure no parent has to face losing their own Abby. Fear This is a defensive driving course taught by former police driving instructors and geared toward teen drivers.
And that’s how I met Stephen.
It was Thursday night at First Methodist Church downtown. We were meeting in the chapel, where the “classroom” portion of the program was being taught. A parent is required to attend with their teen.
The Bachos had graciously extended an invitation for eldest SON of Thunder and I to take the course. The second part is a four-hour behind the wheel segment, which Eldest and I will be doing Sunday morning.
During a break, Natalie came up to me and we said hello. I asked to meet Stephen and we went out to the hallway.
I never know what to say when I first meet someone I’ve written so much about.
“How are you. I’m sorry for your loss. It’s nice to meet you.” All that came out in a jumbled rush of words.
We talked briefly about the program. I thanked them for the invitation and for what all they were doing. As the class filled back up and they got ready to leave, I shook Stephen’s hand and hugged Natalie.
As I walked back into the chapel to sit next to Eldest, I thought what an incredible impact little Abby had, and continues to have, on this community.
And I remembered the verse in 1 Corinthians 15, “where oh death, is thy victory?”
Until next time.