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Canal deaths call for sympathy, action

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It was heartbreaking to read about the recent drowning victim found in the Auburn canal. The Feb. 15 Journal article stated the victim, Richard Hill, was the sixth person to drown in the canal since January 2009. It was especially upsetting to read that some individuals, on learning he was homeless and a drug user, chose to make disparaging and callous remarks. That anyone would choose to speak in such an uncaring way is offensive. His mother, in response, reflected on the sort of person he was before his life took a tragic turn, relaying how he loved kids and at one time was a youth’s team baseball coach. I wish to offer my condolences for the victim Richard Hill’s mother. Mrs. Hill, I hope you will accept my deep sympathy for the loss of your son. It’s clear, just from the little you said, he had a gentle heart. In contrast to the few, please know there are many who share your heartbreak from the loss of their child, whether due to an abrupt accidental death, a debilitating disease, or an addiction and mental illness. Their hearts know your pain and would want you to have their prayers and sympathy, too. Our son, now 22, was diagnosed (at about 19) with schizophrenia. Because he can’t accept the fact, he refuses medication that could help him live a normal life. As a result he lives on the street – like many in his circumstances. He had a gentle heart and nature at one time, as well. He was friendly, engaging, well-liked, generous, respectful of others, reflective, talented – loved to play the guitar, writing songs. It breaks our heart how his life has turned out, too. He likely spent times in the very same places as your son. They could have spoken on occasion. He could have just as likely been the one found in that canal. Mrs. Hill, I know your son is in God’s loving memory. Just as Jesus promised the humble sinner who died next to him, “Truly I tell you today you will be with me in paradise.” I pray God will comfort you in his mercies. To the people of Auburn, these accidental drownings in the Auburn canal demand attention. Children especially can be at risk of falling into the canal. To avoid any more drownings the canal needs to be made safe. DIANE KATCHES, Auburn