Fullerton Tragedy

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Early Thursday morning the country learned of the senseless death of Nick Anderhart, a 22 year old pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. After pitching his first start of 2009 on Wednesday evening, the car in which the young athlete was riding was struck by a drunk driver. Anderhart and two other passengers were killed in the crash.

One of these passengers, a 20 year old CSU-Fullerton Alpha Chi Omega, was in my audience in November when I presented at the University. When I read stories of this tragedy, its proximity to the university and the ages of the passengers, it became apparent very quickly how close to this crash that I was.

This morning, I wrote to Nick Katz, the director of Greek Life at CSU-Fullerton. After spending the day with Nick when I was on campus, I’ve come to know him as a friend. When I learned that the CSU-Fullerton student had indeed been in my audience, my heart went out even more to that university’s community. Such a senseless crash… and one which could have been easily prevented.

This morning, I sent a message to the president of the Alpha Chi Omega chapter and I’d like to include it here. It’s nothing profound because there’s simply nothing to say other than, “I’m sorry.” This crash shouldn’t have happened and three young people should not have had their lives cut short by an impaired driver.

Again, I send my sympathy to the CSU-Fullerton community, the family and friends of Nick Anderhart, the Angels pitcher, and the young law student whose life was also lost…


To the ladies of Alpha Chi Omega,

Last fall, you may remember a keynote speech I delivered for the Greeks at CSU-Fullerton. In this program, I shared my experiences after being blinded and nearly killed by a drunk driver. After the tragedy this week in Fullerton, I wanted to write and extend my sympathy to you, the Alpha Chi Omega chapter and the entire CSU-Fullerton Greek community.

Any death makes us stop and take a different look at life. When this happens to a young person with their entire life in front of them, it has the tendency to leave everyone reeling. And when the death is such a senseless and preventable tragedy as you experienced this week, the unanswerable question comes up again and again: Why?

When that question arises, it often leads to anxious, gut-wrenching pain… because there is no good answer. This simply should not have happened. While you’ll probably never get an acceptable response to “Why?”, I do hope this will somehow help you, your sisters, your family, friends, fellow CSU-Fullerton students and maybe many others understand just how precious (and precarious) life is. I also hope it will encourage you to hug your loved ones a little closer, always knowing the world can change in an instant.

No one can ever know precisely what another person is going through. We simply can’t step into another’s skin and mind to feel what they feel. We can sympathize, but never accurately empathize. Still, having experienced vast amounts of frustration and anger over a useless lost due to another’s irresponsible choices, I’ve been helped so, so much by helping hands and listening ears of others. If I can return this favor by helping the sisterhood, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can’t promise an answer to the question of, “Why?”, but I can certainly be a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry upon.

With sympathy,

Marcus Engel
Orlando, FL

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