>More than 900 turn out for memorial service celebrating the lives of four killed in tragic car-train collision
Treasured possessions -- pink ballet shoes, a Bible and a fireman's hat -- were nestled among floral bouquets and life-sized portraits of Sandy Roe, 32, and her children Jason, 15, Tina, 14, and Devin, 6, in the Culver gymnasium where some 900 people gathered for their memorial service last Thursday.
An opening song by Dee Werner plaintively echoed the thoughts of many in the room, "Lord why do loved ones have to die? Why were some taken and the others left?"
Residents of both the Culver and Madras communities had been grappling with that question since Sandy and four of her children died in a car-train crash Dec. 5, while on the way to school. Ten-year-old Ethan Roe was the only one to survive the wreck, and his father Steven Roe, Captain of the Culver Volunteer Fire Department was the first person to respond to the scene.
Werner's song and all of the speakers at the service pointed to the Roe family's strong faith and the way Sandy embraced her 32 years of life as the answer to the question "Why?"
Culver teacher Kim Kaylor, who Sandy had "adopted" as her big sister, shared memories of the four, recalling how excited Sandy had been to move into a new home from a small duplex shared with the Lowe family, which Sandy had dubbed the "Roe-Lowe House."
Kaylor remembered Tina helping her to learn sign language, Jason dancing with his sister at eighth grade graduation, and how proud Devin was to start first grade this fall.
Sandy was remembered for her exuberance of life. "She could take a mundane day and turn it into some kind of adventure. She'd tell you, `There's good in the world. There's good in your life,'" Kaylor said.
Bill Lowe said he and his wife Janice had been good friends with the Roes for nine years since sharing the Roe-Lowe house. He remembered how Sandy would answer the phone in July by saying "Merry Christmas!"
"The joy she had was something everyone of us could have," he said, referring to Sandy's religious faith. "It was the same strength of spirit I saw in Steve as he pulled his family from the car and the same peace he had as he waited for reports on his son Ethan at the hospital," Lowe said.
All the Roe children were active members of the High Desert Dance Arts Studio in Madras, and their fellow ballet students performed a dance to the song "Butterfly Kisses" as a memorial to the children.
Pastor Lee McCloud spoke directly to Steve and Ethan in the front row noting, "We are saying goodbye physically, but not spiritually."
Addressing the crowd McCloud said, "It's moments like this we say, `Am I living life to the fullest, or am I wasting some of it?'"
He noted how excited Sandy and the children were about life, and their faith and suggested others might look at their example.
"We wonder about death, life and the hereafter. But often we leave services like these without making adjustments in our own life," McCloud said.