Saying Goodbye to David Betts

David Betts
David Betts
John Betts said he talked with David about death -- and life -- just 3 weeks before the accident.
John Betts said he talked with David about death -- and life -- just 3 weeks before the accident.
Hundreds of David's friends were there to honor him. Some shared memories.
Hundreds of David's friends were there to honor him. Some shared memories.

BRYAN -- David Betts, one of five Bluffton University baseball players killed in the Atlanta bus crash one week ago, was eulogized at his funeral on Friday at Bryan High School in Bryan, Ohio.

"David's life was not a tragedy. David's life was a race that he did not run in vain," said Pastor Ron Guengerich, David's pastor.

Hundreds of friends were on hand to pay their respects David. But David's family played the biggest role in honoring him.

"He was always the better ballplayer," his sister Sarah said. "My little brother was a monster hitter and fielder and would play anywhere you asked. He would have been an All-American, I am sure."

"Your example is one I will work to live up to from now on," said David's sister, Rachel. "And how many little brothers hear their older sisters say that?"

Then, John Betts, wearing his son's No. 4 Bluffton baseball jersey, recalled a conversation he had with his son just three weeks before the tragedy. "So, I proceeded to tell David, we all die. But fewer really live. It's how you live and what you do with your time, not how much time you have, that counts."

Some of David's friends and coaches also shared their memories of him. David will be laid to rest on Saturday.

Zach Arend, 18, was the seventh person to die from injuries he sustained in the crash. He died at 6 AM March 9, one week after the accident took place.

Arend's parents, Dana and Caroline, wrote in a family statement that he was a wonderful son. "He loved baseball, and he loved being with his family and friends."

Scott Harmon was eulogized on Wednesday at the Elida High School gym. Services for Jerome and Jean Niemeyer were held Wednesday in Columbus Grove.  A funeral service for Tyler Williams was held at 1 PM Thursday at the Phillipian Missionary Baptist Church in Lima. Services for Cody Holp were held 1 p.m. Thursday, March 8, at the Lewisburg United Methodist Church.

Tim Berta, Ida, Michigan, remains in critical condition and William Grandlinard, Berne, Indiana, is in fair condition at Grady Memorial Hospital. Coach James Grandey is in stable condition at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. Kyle King is in Atlanta Memorial Hospital -- condition unknown at this time.

Kyle, talking to reporters from his hospital room this week, said many of the players were asleep when he heard the bus driver's wife scream and the bus hit the concrete barrier.

The bus carrying the team crashed around 5:30 AM March 2. The students had been on their way to Sarasota, Fla., to play in a double header with Eastern Mennonite University before heading to Ft. Myers to participate in the Gene Cusic Classic.

Police spokesman Joe Cobb said the driver apparently mistook the exit lane for part of the carpool lane and continued over the side of the overpass. The bus tumbled over a fence and guard rail, and landed on its left side. Eyewitnesses on the scene say there were no skid marks.

Bluffton University is just south and west of Findlay, or about 50 miles south and west of Toledo. News 11's Colleen Wells was there this morning and said the scene at Bluffton University was very emotional. There are only about 1,100 students enrolled at the university. Wells says it's the kind of school where everybody knows everybody. She's seen students in tears.

"It's going to rock the school for awhile," said Bluffton junior Katie Barrington. Some students and residents wiped tears from their eyes as they filed into the school's basketball gym for a 10 am gathering.

University President James Harder spoke to reporters just after 11:00am on March 2. "Today is a profoundly tragic and sad day in the life of Bluffton University," Harder began. "We only wish to reflect on our sadness for the tragedies that have so deeply impacted the lives of so many people. Friends, relatives, of course the people involved directly in the accident, we can only begin to imagine how over time this will play out."

"A few minutes ago, in this auditorium, a gathering together of the Bluffton community occurred. Every seat was filled, as our students, faculty and staff, friends, community members, alumni, area pastors, area counselors and well-wishers gathered together to reflect on what has happened," said Harder.

"All of us on this campus will have the opportunity in the days and weeks ahead to offer our own support in many, many different ways, and I'm sure that support is forthcoming," said Harder.

Numerous offers from other institutions and families have poured into the university offering counseling services, places to stay, food and many other tangible and intangible forms of support.

A police spokesman described the bus as being "completely annihilated." Sports equipment was scattered along the interstate. Several people were able to crawl out of the escape hatches before rescuers got there.

A.J. Ramthun said he was jolted awake when the bus hit the overpass wall. He says he then remembers a teammate tapping him on the head and telling him to get out because there was "gas all over."

Ramthun has stitches in his face and says his collarbone is broken. However, he says his brother -- a teammate -- is worse off. Ramthun says his brother damaged his hip after being trapped underneath the bus and "might not recover from that."

Traffic on I-75 was backed up for miles by the wreck.

The Bluffton University web page says the Bluffton Beavers play their homes games at Sears Field in Bluffton.  Bluffton's team finished 17-21 in 2006, with a record of 10-11 in the Heartland Conference, tying them for second place in their NCAA Division 3 conference. The school was founded in 1899.

The team played its first game in 1905. Its all-time record is 622-807-24.

According to the school's web page, the The 16th Annual Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic is an event that offers Men's and Women's NCAA and NAIA Baseball and Softball teams an opportunity to participate in regular season games during their respective "Spring Breaks." Over 300 teams come from most of the "cold winter climate" states and represent NCAA Divisions II and III.

Classes at Bluffton were canceled for the day and student organizations planning to head out on spring break trips canceled their plans in order for students to be with each other and their families during this time of grieving. Trained counselors, local area pastors and community members have been available throughout the day for students.

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Posted by KO