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Impact of girls lives can continue

Maybe it’s just us, but this week’s News-Times seems to be missing something. For the first time in a month, you won’t find any photos of Anna Dieter-Eckerdt or her sister, Abigail Robinson, in these pages. You won’t read any anecdotes from their parents, teachers or friends about how, in their short lives, they managed to make our world a bit brighter.

In the days following the horrific accident in front of their home on Oct. 20, the girls’ deaths dominated the news. But once that shock gave way, the conversation (and our coverage) shifted to their “love-drenched” lives and the outpouring of community support for their family.

There were poignant images from the Oct. 21 candlelight vigil and the memorial that sprang up across from their home on Main Street, near the spot where a car struck the girls while they were playing or hiding in leaves that had been piled into the road. There was an account of the Oct. 26 Celebration of Life in Hillsboro which drew 1,000 people.

For the past month, our paper has been filled with stories of how children found creative ways to remember their friends and how businesses and individuals rallied to raise funds for the family. Many of you told us our Nov. 4 interview with Tom Robinson and Susan Dieter-Robinson brought tears — but also an abiding sense of hope.

Last week’s News-Times was dominated by a story on the Nov. 9 “Cycle of Life,” a community celebration of those “love-drenched lives” that raised awareness about bike safety and nearly $4,500 for some new playground equipment behind the former Central School, where Anna and Abby spent many afternoons playing.

There was, it seemed, always something from the previous week that provided inspiration and something on the calendar that helped us move forward while we looked back.

Now, however, the family and our community are entering a transition. In an early conversation with us, Susan wondered aloud what “the new normal” would feel like once the activities wound down and she and Tom settled into life without those two lively girls physically in their home.

Only she and the other family members can answer to that question, but if they continue on the path they started in these past four weeks, it will include some lessons for the rest of us about the power of faith, forgiveness and how to build a lasting legacy out of a tragedy.

That’s where the rest of us come in.

There are still fundraising events coming up for scholarships and new playground equipment. And there’s talk of making the “Cycle of Life” an annual event.

People from around the region have told us they have been amazed at the way that both the community and the family have responded to this tragic accident over the past month.

We see no reason why that can’t continue. Just because their names and faces will fade from the news, that doesn’t mean the impact their lives — and deaths — had on our community is any less.

As we’ve noted before, the Dieter-Robinson family and its tight-knit circle of friends isn’t the only family touched by this tragic accident.

We’ve already heard from some of you who felt our coverage of Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, the 18-year-old driver of the car that struck the girls, has been too sympathetic.

After all, she and her boyfriend, Mario Echeverria — who was a passenger the night of the accident — now face criminal charges because they allegedly failed to come forward when they learned what had happened and initially lied to police when questioned about it.

The upcoming trial is an appropriate forum to sort out exactly what happened on the night of Oct. 20. If crimes were committed, there should be appropriate consequences, and we will report all of that fully.

But we also will report how those consequences affect the “other” families whose lives were changed on that night.



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