Saturday, June 22, 2024

‘You’re not alone’

Springtown community mourns loss of children in car wreck, prays for families, injured teacher


SPRINGTOWN — The death of two 9-year-old girls in a car wreck the day before Memorial Day has cast a shadow over Springtown.

Last week, news surfaced online that the girls who died — Londyn Hargis and Bailey Reed — were students at Goshen Creek Elementary School in Springtown and the woman driving the vehicle they were in, who is the only survivor of the crash, is a teacher at the school. Two others died in the wreck: a 29-year-old woman driving the vehicle that veered into the wrong lane on Farm-to-Market Road 51 and a 66-year-old man in the truck with the girls and Autumn Reed, the teacher.

The sorrow among the Springtown community has led to action. Ways to donate to the families affected by the wreck and to Reed’s medical expenses from her injuries have been publicized on Facebook.

Witnessing these efforts, as well as the contributions of her mother, inspired 10-year-old Avery Lowery to step up and do her part. Last week, Avery decided to sit outside her home near the Springtown Square and give the community a message about her reading and social studies teacher, Mrs. Reed.

“She was really nice to me, and she really explained things to where I knew what she was saying,” Avery said, adding that Reed brought a fun energy to the classroom. Her most vivid memory of Reed was during field day when Reed raced a student on the inflatable obstacle course.

Avery also described Bailey, Reed’s daughter who died in the wreck, as full of fun as well.

“I remember she used to kick boys in the shins a little bit,” Avery said. “She played softball. She didn't really kick girls in the shins; she never did, so she was nice and funny. Whenever we came in the classroom, she tried to scare us.”

Hearing about the wreck from her mother, Whitney Lowery, drove Avery to tears and prayers. It was a tragedy that she, like everyone else, didn’t see coming.

“It was hard to know that Bailey passed,” Avery said.

Praying helped Avery feel better. She believes Bailey is in a place where she won’t have to suffer.

Avery’s mom, who is also a teacher at Goshen Creek Elementary School, has been involved in fundraising after the wreck, particularly in support of Londyn Hargis’ family. The GoFundMe page Lowery set up raised a whopping $15,050 (and counting), which was a surprise for Lowery who only expected to get half of her $5,000 goal.

“I had (Londyn) for a year (in class) and care about her and her family,” Lowery said about why she made the GoFundMe page. “The Reeds are really well known in the community, and I knew that people would surround them and support them. And I didn't know how much support the Hargises would have, so I just thought it'd be a way to help them through this difficult time.”

Lowery described Londyn as having a big personality and a beautiful singing voice, evidenced by a video of Londyn singing “Last Christmas” in class with another student. Lowery could only talk about Londyn for so long before choking up with tears.

“She was so full of life, the most outgoing, charismatic, little spitball of fire,” Lowery said. “When she walked in the room, everybody knew she was there, and she was kind, compassionate, very thoughtful. She just lit up a room.”

Seeing her mother’s actions and knowing that her teacher is battling serious injuries, the idea of raising money for Mrs. Reed was a no-brainer for Avery.

“She's more than a person. She was my teacher, and she was one of the best teachers I had,” Avery said. “She doesn't deserve to go through all this pain.”

On her first day, Avery collected more than $70 from people after walking around her neighborhood and sitting in her front yard, and she plans to raise money for a couple of weeks. Of course, Avery hopes her efforts will inspire people to donate toward Mrs. Reed’s medical expenses but also to pray for her as well.

The Springtown community is definitely praying. In fact, Springtown Independent School District hosted a rally last week where local pastors spoke and prayed for the families involved in the accident. Attendees nearly filled up Springtown High School’s auditorium and raised their voices in worship songs like “Lord, I Need You” and “Goodness of God.”

“How many of you are thankful for the goodness of God?” Legacy Church Pastor Gary Veazey asked. The crowd at SHS responded with a chorus of amens and applause.

Veazey reassured the audience that it’s OK to feel grief, anger or have questions for God. He and the other pastors encouraged those in attendance to lean into their faith at this time. Veazey referenced a story in the Bible about Moses; when he had his hands lifted to God, the Israelites were winning their battle, and when Moses’ arms grew tired, his friends held him up.

“Not only is God with us, but we have each other,” Veazey said. “I just want the family to know, the friends to know that when you're lifting your hands up and you're crying out to God, and you're praying; and you're seeking God; and you have all the questions; and you get weary and tired; and you feel like you can't make it, just know there's a whole community around you. There's a whole group of churches around you that are saying ‘you're not alone.’ We're here to lift up your hands because as long as our hands are lifted up, in other words, as long as our focus is upon the Lord, the battle is going to be won.”