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01-16-03: Mendon boy killed in auto accident dreamed of farming
The Daily Standard

    MENDON - At 6 years old, Adam Harner knew exactly how he would spend the rest of his life. He shared the details with his parents, Michael and Sheryl Harner, finding it difficult to contain his excitement.
    He dreamed of being a farmer like his dad, raising beef cattle and harvesting crops. He also envisioned a second occupation as an artist, drawing on his penchant for coloring with bright shades.
    Those dreams died early Wednesday morning as he and his sister were bound for a breakfast date and then classes at Parkway Local Schools.
    The traffic accident occurred at 6:55 a.m. not far from their 7701 Mercer Road home. The Mercer County Sheriff's Office pinpoints the location as the 6500 block of Mercer Road, five-tenths mile east of Palmer Road, in Union Township.
    Sixteen-year-old Abby M. Harner was westbound when she slowed due to snow and ice on the roadway. The 2002 Chevy Silverado pickup truck veered out of control and slid off the left side of the roadway. It struck a Dayton Power & Light Co. utility pole and a Verizon pedestal on the passenger side.
    Adam, who was not using a seatbelt, was pronounced dead at the scene, becoming Mercer County's first traffic fatality of the year. The driver was taken by ambulance to Joint Township District Memorial Hospital, St. Marys, where she was treated then released. She reportedly had her seatbelt secured at the time.
    Sheryl Harner was at work in Decatur, Ind., when the telephone call came regarding her children. Initially, she did not think the injuries were severe.
    "I headed right home and came upon the accident scene," she told The Daily Standard this morning. "I asked about Abby and learned she was at a nearby home. I asked about Adam and no one answered."
    Once inside, she learned of his death and tried to console her daughter before heading back outside.
    "I stood by the truck until the coroner came and they had to take Adam away," Sheryl Harner said in a voice choked with emotion this morning. "It was so quiet ... so many memories came flooding back. I couldn't believe our little boy was gone."
    Adam, whom his mother describes as a "spitfire," always sported a smile and a positive attitude. No one remained a stranger in his presence. He liked people and they liked him.
    "I went to a parent conference and his kindergarten teacher told me Adam never judged his peers," Sheryl Harner added. "Only then did I learn he befriended a fellow student with problems and went out of his way to make that child feel special."
    Adam, who longed to play football and baseball for the Parkway Panthers, demonstrated his love for farming on a daily basis - carefully setting up a large farm set after dinner. He arranged the toy tractors and assorted implements in neat fashion just like his dad. The boy's hands always lingered lovingly on the small animal figures, most noticeably the cows.
    He longed to show beef cattle at the Mercer County Fair like his six sisters and he was looking forward to brother Austin's debut in the show ring this summer. In the meantime, he happily bided his time feeding, grooming and bedding down the animals.
    Adam sometimes accompanied his father on trips to deliver straw in Kentucky when school was not in session. They had taken such trips over the recent Christmas holidays.
    "He talked the whole way," Michael Harner said as tears fell in torrents. "He knew everybody down there and they knew him. I should have taken him along yesterday."
    The family is struggling to deal with the loss and trying to console Abby, who feels responsible for her brother's death. The two were very close, often meeting her boyfriend for breakfast at the Motor Inn before school. They had been headed there Wednesday morning.
    "We try to tell Abby it was an accident," Sheryl Harner said. "We don't blame her in the least. It could happen to anyone - me, her dad, even her sisters."
    No charges have been filed in connection with the accident.
    The Harners cling to their religious beliefs, knowing the little boy with aready smile is in a better place.
    "His time on earth was short but he made a big impact on the lives he touched," Sheryl Harner added. "Now he's our little angel in heaven."
    The family expressed deep appreciation to law enforcement and rescue squad personnel who responded to the scene, to relatives and friends who responded with food and prayers and to Bill and Barb Hamilton who opened their home near the accident scene.
    Contributions in Adam's memory can be made to the Long-Range Improvement Fund of the Mercer County Fairgrounds, in care of the Mercer County Civic Foundation.
    An obituary appears on page 5A of today's paper.


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