Sunday, Sept. 9

A house fire breaks out in the 100 block of Montgomery Street, killing 5-year-old Cataleya Arellano and her 1-year-old brother Jason Whitelow Jr. The children's mother and infant brother escape but are severely injured.

Sunday, Sept. 23

Two weeks later, another house fire in the 10 block of 16th Street claims the life of Edna DeHaven, 83.

Thursday, Oct. 25

While accompanying his father on a trip to a family acquaintance's house in the 1500 block of Treen Street, 3-year-old Karter McCutchen accidentally shoots and kills himself with a gun that he finds on a nearby living room table.

Sunday, Nov. 18

A vehicle carrying five Cass County teenagers is struck by another vehicle on U.S. 35 in Howard County. Logansport High School student Auden Myers, 16, and Lewis Cass High School student Haley Begley, 17, are killed in the crash that also severely injured the three other occupants.

Tuesday, Nov. 27

Two miles south of Walton, an unknown vehicle apparently struck and killed Walton resident Zachary Wines, 26, and Valparaiso resident, Bryan Curry, 52. 

Wednesday, Nov. 28

A house fire in the 4300 block of Pottawatomie Road takes the lives of six people, including Joseph Huddleston, 42, Brandi Vail, 25, Kadee Huddleston, 10, Swayzee Hite, 3, Rhylie Hite, 1, and Marshall Hite, three months.

A community responds

To say Logansport and Cass County have been through a lot these past three months is pretty much an understatement, community leaders said.

And with each tragedy, the "what if" and "why us" questions just keep growing too, according to Life Gate Church Student Pastor Josh Mullin.

"My wife woke me up to the news about the house fire [on Pottawatomie Road], and it hit me like a ton of bricks," he said. "I just sat there for a minute, and to be blatant and vulnerable, I just sat there and said, 'I just don't want to do life today. I just want to sit here.' And I think at this point in the community, that's just a common response. It's an understandable response."

And though grieving the loss of an actual family member is different than grieving the death of a community member you've never met, that loss can still create an impact, Jeff Allen, pastor at First Church of the Nazarene, said.

"There are different kinds of strangers," Allen said. "There are strangers that live in China, and then there are strangers that live in Logansport, Indiana. People are dying every day in both instances, but in the first case, we don't know or are even aware of it. But when it comes closer and closer to home, we not only begin to feel the pain of the people, but there is a connection there. Somebody knows somebody that knows somebody."

Allen said he looks at the grief process and what is happening in Cass County these past few months like cross stitch.

"If you look at cross stitch from one side, it's a pretty picture," he said. "But on the other side, it's a jumbled mess. Life is that jumbled mess. It just looks sporadic and chaotic. But when you flip it over, it makes something beautiful. We have to believe that regardless of the one side, God is sewing and stitching something beautiful together."

Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell agreed, saying that while Logansport and the Cass County community has been inundated with tragedy lately, the fabric of the community is still strong.

"When you see a Caston runner dedicate his performance to kids at a different school or when you see the 'Cass County Strong' people in Lewis Cass and Logansport standing in front of a sign and singing, holding hands and praying on a cold night at Logansport High School, you realize that it may take a village to raise a child, but it takes something like a Logansport to raise a family and get through these things," Kitchell said.

The mayor then leaned back in his seat and paused a moment.

"It's a tough time right now," he said, "but I tell you that there are towns like this everywhere that this could happen and devastate a community. Some would never come out of it. But I think Logansport and Cass County are resilient places with resilient people."

Kitchell continued.

"We're not the highest-paid people in the world. We're not living on top of a mountain or on the sunny shore of the ocean. We're here deep in the Midwest where the winters are cold and the summers are hot. Life can be hard. But we will find a way. There are times we come closer together, and you can feel us coming closer together right now."

It's that sense of resolve that Mullin said makes him hopeful that Cass County will continue to rally around its own and help those who need it. In the past couple months, the community has come together for events like memorial vigils, prayer gatherings and fundraisers. And that's not something that's lost on Mullin.

"I think that life is meant to be done in community," he said. "And what a community we have. With this last span of tragedies, it only builds our community even stronger because we seem to have this thing inside us that if one part hurts, we all move in unison to make that one part feel better. When one part of our community is hurting, we all try to remedy the situation because it really does affect us all."

And when life gets tragic, like has happened so much lately, Mullin said he still has tremendous hope.

"I think that obviously the best way to spin all of this is to bring it back to say that this really stinks and really hurts, but let's come together because God has a purpose. So let's find our purpose in that and let's make the Devil regret the day he messed with Logansport and the Cass County community."

Reach Kim Dunlap at kim.dunlap@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5150.

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