Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two boys drown in ASM dam

I wasn't sure how to write or title this post. It starts with a tragic accident, but I found the discussion after the accident interesting. I am in no way trying to make light of the tragic accident. Please leave comments.

Two days ago two teenage boys drowned in the dam just outside the fence of ASM. A brother of one of the boys watched helplessly from the shoreline as the boat the boys were fishing in tipped over. The two boys most likely were not good swimmers and didn't make it the 50 feet or so from where their boat capsized to the shoreline. A few staff and students went out to try to help, but they couldn't find the two boys.

You can see how close the boat was to shore

Paramedics were called, but were also helpless as the bodies could not be found. A police diver was called in, but couldn't find the boys. They called off the search off late in the afternoon. The diver had only been in for about an hour and a half but didn't have the proper equipment to continue searching, and it would be getting dark soon. Many family and community members spent the night camped out around the dam (large pond).

Individuals in rural African communities are superstitious. Shortly after the boys died and partially because the bodies weren't found the rumors started about why/how they died. Some thought hippos had gotten them. This is not so far fetched. About 6 weeks ago there were two hippos living in the dam. Little known fact that hippos are responsible for more deaths than any other animal in Africa. But as I said it has been at least 6 weeks since the hippos left. Some thought mermaids lived in the dam and were upset that the boys were fishing with nets. Maybe a mermaid got caught in the net and pulled causing the boat to tip over? The most common idea was that a massive anaconda lived in the dam and pulled the two boys under and killed them. Another said the Ancestors were angry about recent break-ins in the area and were trying to tell the community to put a stop to it.

Divers in the boat getting ready to start Day 2 (you can see people climbing into trees in the background to get a better view)

Yesterday more divers were called in. They started searching around 11:30 and by 2:00 they had found both bodies. To me it looked as though the boys had drowned. Fairly simple answer. No animals, mystic creatures, or mystic beings. Although one could say the Ancestor theory would still stand. There is no proof that the Ancestors weren't responsible.

Cars stopped along the road to see what was going on

I doubt we will ever hear the end of the story. No cause of death will be shared with the hundreds of people there yesterday. Which, as in any culture, will lead to imaginative stories of, "how they really died." I guess we aren't much different in that way. Think of an old urban legend or a story from your childhood you were told about that, "scary place," or the, "abandoned house." Most legends start with some form of truth, maybe a tragic accident like this was. But it is that same tragic truth that makes the legend just believable enough.

People were lined up around the dam

I didn't compress this photo before uploading it. If you click on the photo you can see the enlarged original. (Caution: If you look closely behind the raft just poking out of the water you can see the head and hand of one of the boys being towed to shore)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

MN in pictures

Now that I'm back in the swing of things (with work, life in Africa, etc.), I think I'm ready to share a little more of our trip home. (Yes, it's been a long time coming, but it didn't feel right to go back until I had really left...sure, makes a lot of sense.)

Papa with Lilly Garrity, one of two new cousins, at Perch Lake


Close as my dad's gotten to being a grandpa so far...Kael Burkes is too funny. (Yes, he's asleep.)


How cool is it when family and friends come together? This is my auntie Debbie and brand new Lianna with Amber and Luci Bretto.


Newly engaged! Isn't Megan Kelly beautiful? Blake is a lucky guy! (Megs is pretty lucky herself.)


Papa's cabin is the greatest place on Earth


Jed with our new niece Amanda. Well, she's not that new (almost 18 months!), but we're certainly new to her. But we love her already!


Uncle Jed reading stories


My mom and dad's new house on Spirit Lake. Honestly, it was such a treat to be able to help them move. And what a beautiful place to live!


Fishing on Spirit Lake


Brothers and sisters--Jed with Jacob, Jodi, Josh, and Bobbie


Mom and Kim at the shack


We did so many fun things that we didn't get pictures of...golfing with Josh and Kathy at Giant's Ridge, supper with Aaron, meeting Bobbie's new husband Mark for the first time, eating Chipotle, burgers at the Grzybowski's, walking through Grandpa Rittgers garden and hearing about Roberta's latest projects, campfires and S'mores, playing 500 with Grandma Krumwiede, supper at Shelly's with Alison and the crew, the Twins game with Mike and Kim, supper at Auntie Debbie and Uncle Greg's, Jordan's birthday party, pizza at Ciao, seeing the Schleppe-girls at Perch, kicking back with a Labatt, playing with Shanti, hanging with Beth, Andrea and Brianna, four saunas, releasing Dad's Chinese lanterns, and so much more. Wow! We have been incredibly blessed.

Thank you all for loving us and supporting us so generously. We love you!