WARSAW — Hundreds of people came together outside Harrison Elementary Thursday night to mourn the death of 8-year-old Gidieon Cook who was struck and killed by a car Monday at the crosswalk in front of the school.
The former Cutie King of the North Webster Mermaid Festival was hit on Husky Trail while heading home after a day of summer school classes.
The driver, a 24-year-old woman from Tippecanoe, immediately pulled over and has been cooperating with authorities. No charges have been filed, but questions about the circumstances remain unclear.
Pastor John B. Lowe, the family’s pastor at New Life Christian Church and World Outreach, was one of four spiritual advisors who spoke at the candlelight vigil arranged along part of the circular drive outside of the school, just yards from where Gidieon died.
Family members — including his mother, father, stepmother and some of his sisters — all wore matching shirts with pictures of Gideon, and sat in the front row.
Lowe described the boy as one who loved life and had a zest for outdoor fun.
“We’re facing a tragedy and a thief called death,” Lowe told the crowd.
Lowe distantly addressed the uncertainty over what happened and subtly called for change.
“I know sadly that we humans learn and adjust by pain,” he said. “We’re all facing and experiencing a lot of pain right now so I believe we’ll learn by this mistake and we’ll get better and we’ll help this to never happen again.”
He said when he learned how Gideon died, he was reminded that he sometimes drives too fast with children nearby.
“I think all of us could be just a little more conscious and aware of the world we live in and the people we live around and that our lives are connected and all of us have a part to play to help bring healing and to protect each other from hurt like this,” Lowe said.
“Gidieon wouldn’t want us to be bitter or angry, but he certainly — like all of us — would want us to give some attention to help bring about some good change,” he said.
Lowe’s son, Pastor Brian Lowe, also spoke to the crowd, reminding them that such gathering as Thursday’s event is part of the grieving process, and pointed to the adage, “A crowd helps fill an empty heart.”
The crowd then joined in in singing “This Little Light of Mine,” a children’s song that Gidieon and others at church used to sing.
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” they sang.
After lighting candles, the audience released a group of colorful balloons that lofted slowly upward and over the school.
Pastor Ken Locke closed the vigil with a prayer and called on friends to support the family.
“There will be times that come in the weeks and days to come when all the crowds are gone and all the people have gone their separate way — that they will be alone with their thoughts and their pain. That’s when we ask you, Holy Spirit, to come and to touch them and we ask you to touch the hearts of other people to come and minister to them,” Lock prayed.
Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 15, at New Life Christian Church and World Outreach, 744 South CR 325E, Warsaw. Services will follow at 1 p.m.
Arrangements are being handled by Redpath Fruth Funeral Home, Warsaw.