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A Community Comes Together in Tragedy

Sun Advocate publisher

The last couple of weeks have been hard ones for people from Carbon County. The loss of two little boys due to a flash flood in a wash has stunned everyone from the closest family members to hardened officials who deal with tragedy way too often.

For now the question of what happened to little Jayden Seal is still a mystery. Swept away from inside his parents vehicle, no remains have been found. That of course is what is on everyones mind.

But there is another side to this unfortunate event that shows how great a community can be. Most of us have seen it before, but I think it needs mentioning, in a formal way in the pages of this newspaper.

In the six years I have worked at the Sun Advocate, and the 16 years I have lived in Carbon County, I have seen the generosity and willingness to do anything to help someone who has suffered a loss demonstrated time and time again. One instance even touched my family personally, and that is one I can comment on from inside experience.

Last year when my son and daughter in laws home burned down just before Christmas, we were shocked and almost numb. But within hours, people began to offer them help. The story about them being newlyweds and losing almost everything they had spread through town like soft butter on hot bread. During the process of rebuilding their lives, they were offered and given almost everything under the sun. Many of those offers of help came from people none of us in the family even knew. Yet the willingness of the community to help someone who had faced a tragedy was unreal.

But my son and his wife lost little when compared to what the Seal's have lost. And this community once again chipped in, in many different ways to help the family.

First of all I need to comment on the searchers. I spent two full days with some of these people as they worked. Most have full time jobs and were working their regular shifts and then coming out for 12 or 14 hours to help in the search. Some took vacation, others took off work without pay to help look for Jayden. And as I worked with these men and women, I saw some pretty strong people hold back tears a number of times when they thought they were on to something. Being part of the press I have to stand back from what is going on to try and report the news fairly and without bias. Yet I found it impossible to remove myself from admiring the pure dedication that many in our local public safety organizations had during that search process.

Next there was the business community. In the past couple of weeks we have run a couple of items in the paper about companies and businesses that have helped out the Seal's. But what you have seen here is just the tip of the iceberg. There have been numerous donations, some very large in terms of things and money to help the family. Yet when I found out about these donations and talked to many of those who gave, most of those involved, don't want what they have done mentioned in the newspaper. Statements like "We're not what is important here" and "We didn't give to get any publicity, only to help" have resounded through my head a number of times in the last two weeks.

Finally there are the people who wanted to or gave so much time to the search, yet it was totally outside their realm of their responsibility. The afternoon of the flash flood, I was headed through Helper after being out of town for the day when my wife called me and told me about the situation. I went right to the golf course and found dozens of people watching for signs of Jayden all along Garley wash and along the Price River. Days later I also found people doing their own searches along the river, either by wandering along the bank or sitting on bridges watching for anything they could see. A lot of volunteers also showed up at the command post and asked to help. Because of the danger and problems that could be caused by unauthorized searchers probing areas, the Carbon County Sheriff's Department had to turn a lot of these people away. But it just shows how this community can give when something bad happens to fellow human beings. This place has a huge heart.

All of us have experienced negative talk about Carbon County when we visit with others outside our area. I remember when I moved here in 1990 that some of my friends couldn't figure it out and some thought I had gone crazy. Some even said "Why would you want to live in that god forsaken place?"

After 16 years of experience here and seeing what the people of this place are about, especially in time of need, I now have plenty of answers for them.

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