Cameron Vennard: A Life, Not a 'Life Lesson'

The following is a Letter to the Editor from Annabel Dolan, who graduated with Cameron Vennard from Nipher Middle School.

On all the news sites, when you see articles about , all the comments talk about lessons to be learned, and how kids should pay more attention, and that parents need to teach their kids to be smarter about electronics and common sense. Do you really think this is what we want to be hearing right now?

Our community of peers and friends has lost someone extremely dear to our hearts, and instead of sharing in our grief, adults around us use this as a time to scold teenagers. No one is to blame for what happened. It was a tragic accident. Could it have been prevented? Possibly, but not in the sense that good life lessons should be learned.

Just in his death, my friends and I were given a striking reminder of what we were taught in elementary school but hasn't been discussed since then, that walking the tracks, although a part of our life, is extremely dangerous. We know that.

Right now, as the news is really beginning to sink in, we want a chance to grieve and remember all the good things in Cam's life, not the one thing the media is focused on. It’s extremely upsetting to me that just days after losing someone who was a friend to all of us, and at such a young age, he, and in turn we, are being reprimanded. Please, just let Cam, his memory, and all his mourners, rest in peace.

Letter submitted by Annabel Dolan, who graduated with Cameron Vennard from Nipher Middle School.

Pat Maloney (Wilken) June 03, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Oh my dear Annabel, please know that we are all sharing in your grief....even strangers like myself. We feel the grief you are going through. We mourn a beautiful life lost way too early, and the wonderful things he could have done with that life. It's just that with that sharing of grief, we think to ourselves " Oh what if that could have been my Johnny or my Mary" what would we feel, and from that we think, "Oh why were they driving too fast, or why were they walking on the tracks". From that we go on to "Why DIDN'T they slow down or why DIDN'T they walk on the sidewalk or pay attention". That is our way of grieving too. So don't ever think we don't share in your grief. We share much more than you know. I am an old lady, who has lost an oldest son, and also several schoolmates. And I know what you are going through. Sometimes, just as children do......we also speak before we mean to, and say things that don't sound right to you, but know that we are walking right beside you in our grief also.
John F Crowley June 03, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Anabel: I too share in your grief and agree also with Pat. It is always tragic when such a young life is lost for whatever reason. However, a thought does come to mind. You mentioned in your letter "could this have been precented?" Your response to your own question was "Possibily". It is this I disagree with. That accident could have been prevented as with alot of others. Our hearts and prayers go out to Cameron's family and his friends.
Kathy Kelly Dunagan June 03, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Annabel, I am so proud of you for speaking up for your feelings and for your friends. My heart and prayers go out to you and your community at this time of loss.
K Hagel June 03, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I can't believe that the response by some people to this person's plea to just let them grieve for right now, is more reprimands. No wonder our children don't feel listened to.
Jan McMichael June 03, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Annie, this is a heartfelt piece. You have the gift of words and wisdom. I am so sad for the loss of Cameron, and I thank you for reminding us all what is at the core of this tragedy.
alicia vazquez June 03, 2012 at 10:19 PM
I was the second babysitter of cam , Ben and Nick . I am so hurt too, and u know what? I strongly agree with you , I don't think now that he is gone we should b thinking about his mistake or however people want to call it. HE IS GONE NOW! I just hope every person that he knew can learn something about this......
Stephanie Ruedlin June 03, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Annabel, I am so very proud of you for speaking your mind in such eloquent fashion. Let us know if there is anything at all that we can do. -Ms. Ruedlin
Jacqueline Miller June 03, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Annabel, you have gained so much more respect from me, writting this article. I completly agree with you, and yes, this could have been prevented but as a classmate of Cam, I don't want to hear that right now, this early in the greving process.
Claire Visnovske June 04, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Annabel, You are so brave for speaking your mind. I've heard of a lot of adults saying "That's why you dont walk on the tracks." and I say Adults you don"t listen to us well enough. They need to leave us alone. " You only Live Once" and that's what Cam did.
Cyndi Sullivan June 04, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Annabel, I am so proud of you for writing this. Even though I didn't know Cam at school, what I have seen and read from you and your classmates has been a wonderful tribute. I am thinking of you all.
Kathy Collier Paul June 05, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Well said Annabel. As an adult I have often thought the same thing when listening to news of a tragedy and they report how long people sat in traffic because of a deadly accident. Who cares? It was someone's life they should be talking about, not the inconvenience their death caused. Perhaps your courage will teach all news outlets a lesson to report with compassion. Know that you have been heard and I am sad for the loss of Cam.
Kath June 05, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Annabel, your Dad shared this link and I had to comment. In fact I told him this story this morning in his office. Years back in the 8th grade a good friend from school, Jeff Smith who was 13 at the time, was jumping moving trains in back home Buffalo NY where I am from. It was cool back then to do that. He was out on a gray Saturday afternoon in February, rainy, cold, you know those kinda days. He misjudged the jump and was killed. Just like now most adults weighed in on it with the coulda, shoulda, woulda totally missing the point of the sorrow and impact at his loss to his family and friends. I paid no attention then and even now...Jeff will always be remembered by me..Cam will always be remembered by you. Stay strong, trust God and his plan...always remember Cam...just sayin...
Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea January 07, 2013 at 08:16 PM
How incredibly moving. Beautifully written, Annabel, and so relevant, what with all that is going on in the world. Allowing ourselves to grieve the loss of our loved ones before taking action can help us to think more clearly when the time comes to address the issues that involve the community. How wise of you to know that in your youth, and how brave of you to speak out against the unnecessary white-noise. My thoughts and prayers are with you and all who were close to Cam.


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