My heart is heavy during this time of Thanksgiving and I haven't been able to stop thinking about the tragic loss of two fathers of two different families involved in a recent hit-and-run accident in Henry County.
The night I heard his name on the local TV news, I was hoping there was another Ruben Marin-Garibay, 43, of Stockbridge. Garibay is the suspect charged with allegedly killing Henry County police officer Elgin L. Daniel, 53, of Ellenwood, in a deadly hit and run.
The stranded motorist Gordon Jarrett in his red Mustang ran out of gas Monday, Nov. 12, on Ga. Highway 138 in Henry County heading east toward Conyers. Road-side assistance stopped to help as well as Officer Daniel.
The reason this story has consumed me so much is because Garibay is the father of one of my piano students. I've been teaching her for the past three years, and she and her family have been in my life once a week, every week for three years.
Garibay has been in jail since his arrest last Tuesday, one day after the hit and run, when tipsters spotted his damaged truck and led police to their house.
I wasn't there when the accident happened so I don't know why he fled the scene. I've thought about it continuously and debated if I were in that situation, would I, too, leave, knowing that I might possibly have one very last time to physically hug my family before I was sentenced to prison for a very long time, perhaps for life.
Since his arrest, Garibay has left his high school-aged daughter, college-aged son and wife in complete shock. I've spoken to them once since the hit and run and all I could think to say was, "I'm praying for you guys."
Having said that, there's another family involved that also lost a father. Officer Daniel was a retired police officer with the DeKalb County police but decided to come out of retirement and serve with the Henry County Police Department before calling it quits. Officer Daniel was with the DeKalb police for 26 years and with the Henry County police for two years.
Funeral services for Officer Daniel were held last Friday. He, too, has left behind a daughter, two sons and a wife of 29 years.
The parallels of the surviving members of both families are similar. While someone may argue that one father is dead while another is still alive, yet remains in jail until his hearing on Dec. 11, the pain and loss of both parties involved have to be equally devastating.
People watching or reading the news of crime related stories don't stop to think about the families of both parties involved, as I have not in the past. All everyone has seen on TV are the faces of both of the fathers, one a fallen police officer, and the other, a hit and run suspect. But my heart aches for my student's family because I know them personally and cannot fathom what they are going through and aches for Officer Daniel's family.
Anger is part of the grieving process after a traumatic event and being able to point the finger at somebody and placing blame on them makes us feel better. I'm angry that upon further investigation, there are allegations that Jarrett, owner of the red Mustang, has possibly been a habitual stranded motorist.
An employee with a Stockbridge towing and roadside service company told WSB news that Jarrett has called them several times to report he needs their assistance because his car has run out of gas.
"Gordon Jarrett has called us on at least five occasions. Four (times), we actually did deliver him gas and deposited it into his tank. And of course the checks he wrote us bounced," she said.
It makes me feel better to be angry at him and point a finger saying that if had he not run out of gas last Monday, then perhaps two families wouldn't be hurting right now.
The clichés "time heals all wounds" and "everything happens for a reason" often ring hollow to the families affected by tragedy. Time will dull the pain, but the void that is left can never be filled or replaced.
Holidays are so festive for the most part, but if you have lost someone dear to you, the holiday cheer can be replaced with feelings of isolation and depression.
And yet even through all the trials we face, I have to remember that God's plans are better than our own and while we may not know why things happen the way that they do, we must push forward.
I seek solace and comfort in the word through music. The lyrics to one of Chris Tomlin's songs do bring me peace even in this tragic event because my God, "You are faithful. To the end."
Nhi Ho is a copy editor for The Covington News. She can be reached at email@example.com.