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Friday, February 15th, 2013

Children healing after loss of parents

By Margie Wuebker
MONTEZUMA - Internal injuries are healing, broken bones are mending and scars are fading, but life will never be the same for the family of Scott and Michele Barhorst.
Scott and Michele Barhorst, who grew up in the Grand Lake area, were killed Dec. 23 in a head-on crash along Interstate 75 near Franklin in southwestern Ohio. A drunken driver traveling in the wrong direction plowed into the Chrysler minivan carrying them and their four children from Madisonville, Tenn., to spend Christmas with relatives in Mercer and Auglaize counties.
The couple's children - Tyler, 18, Logan, 11, Hailie, 9, and Tori, 8 - are recovering slowly and coming to grips with the loss of their heroes.
"We are so fortunate," maternal grandmother Nancy Moeller said with a sigh. "We could have lost them as well."
Tyler, Scott's son from a previous relationship, was thrown from the vehicle in the accident. Despite a neck injury, he crawled back into the van and attempted without success to rouse the adults. An ambulance transported him to Atrium Hospital in Middletown while the girls were rushed to Children's Medical Center in Dayton with life-threatening injuries.
Since being released from the hospital in January, the girls are residing with their grandparents, Lavern "Buck" and Nancy Moeller, while Tyler is living with his mother in Indiana.
In addition to continuing medical appointments, the children are receiving counseling to cope with their loss. Framed family photographs are at each bedside and heart-shaped lockets hold similar inserts. Everyone visited Scott and Michele's gravesite at Guadalupe Cemetery and provided input on a suitable marker.
"I remember everything but not the accident," wheelchair-bound Hailie said. "I don't want to remember that....all I know is that my mommy and daddy are heroes. They saved us and now they are in heaven."
Logan, a fifth-grader, is attending classes part time at Celina Intermediate School. Tori, a second-grader, is headed to school Tuesday with her walker.
Hailie, a third-grader, receives instruction at home. She hopes the pins in her legs and the accompanying halos will be removed soon.
"I'm ready!" she proclaimed with conviction. "I haven't been walking for eight weeks, but I'm pretty good at driving this wheelchair around. It gets me where I want to go."
Nancy Moeller recalled how the living room turned into an infirmary following the accident - two hospital beds, three wheelchairs, assorted walkers and a commode were brought in. Initially, it took four people to accomplish frequent bed to wheelchair transfers; now only Hailie requires assistance from two people.
"We can't begin to thank everyone for all the love, support and prayers directed our way since the accident," she said in a voice ripe with emotion. "We received gas cards to help with all the trips to and from Dayton. People are still bringing meals...it is all so amazing."
Cards arrive signed by people they do not know. Two men from Springboro established a fund after learning about the accident. The Moellers believe all the prayer chains throughout the state and beyond made a difference.
Teachers came from the girls' school in Tennessee to shower them with presents. Cards arrived from many of the clients Michele served as a state tested nursing assistant. Parishioners at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Tennessee packed family belongings and Precision Corporation, where Scott worked as a dispatcher, is assisting with the sale of the home.
There have been various benefits, including one Saturday at the Shingle Shack.
The tragedy occurred as the couple were embarking on a new style of living. The move to Tennessee six months ago provided Scott the opportunity to work days and ended 12-hour night shifts with 2 1/2 -hour commutes.
"They were so happy about a new style of family life," Nancy said. "They certainly packed a lot of living into those months. Michele once said she would follow Scott anywhere and she did. Now it's up to all of us to raise the children as they would have wanted."

A fundraiser for the Barhorst family begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Shingle Shack in Montezuma.
Activities include a bowling tournament, 50/50 drawing, gifts and prizes.
All proceeds will go to the family.
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