Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Year Ago

**Blog contains sensitive material and may be very emotional. It isn't easy reliving that week and thinking about everything that happened, but I thought it was important to have it written down.

Last year around this time, all of the Hinton's were up in Logan spending the weekend together. Everyone flew in from out of town and spent the weekend having a summer reunion (similar to what we did this year). We took some family pictures since it had been 2-3 years since the last one, and spent the weekend enjoying each others company. It was a great weekend.

Little did we know that just a few short days later, everyone would be together once again. At least, almost everyone.

Wednesday August 7, 2013 -
It has been a year since then, but I remember that day and the week that followed almost vividly. We had gone to bed early that night when Lance's phone started ringing. Lance got up and started talking to someone. I was still mostly asleep, when I heard Lance start to lose it. It didn't take me long to realize that something really bad had happened. Lance was freaking out, and I was freaking out trying to figure out what happened. After putting the pieces together, I discovered that Lance's little brother, David (who got married 5 months before), had passed away in a boating accident at Lake Powell.

My initial reaction was just a blank stare. I remember sitting there, not really thinking, not really feeling anything. Just trying to process what I had just learned. Then I saw Lance. And my heart just broke. He was crying. He was shaking. He just looked devastated. So I wrapped my arms around him, and we cried together. And right when we would start to calm down enough to talk or breath even, another wave would hit and we would lose it again.

Finally Lance thought it would be helpful to call some of his siblings to talk to them. So while he spent some time talking to them and remembering funny things about David, I called my mom. She cried with me and told me to keep her informed on everything.

I'm not sure what time it was, but somehow we eventually were able to sleep. The next day happened to be our anniversary. We decided that we needed to try and do something fun, anything to distract us, so we found a babysitter for Blake, and took Will to Cherry Hill. I thought we might do better at pretending to be happy if Will was there, plus I knew it was something Will would truly enjoy.

Not sure what else we were supposed to do with ourselves, Lance went to work Friday like usual.

This is part of an email we received early on from Sharon:

We don't know much more than last night.  We got a call at 3:45am from a ranger/sherriff, or something, letting us know that Lexi and her whole family were off the lake and that they were in counseling with the LDS Bishop there.  David's body was actually taken to Blanding.  The coroner there will do a mandated autopsy.  His body won't be released until that is done, hopefully by the end of today.  Then they will have to transport it.  It may have to be a Monday funeral.

We haven't yet talked with Lexi or her parents.  We don't know what their wishes are.  We are hoping to hear from them this morning.  We assume that she would want a funeral here, but we don't know that, or her preference on burial location.

We will let you know more as we find out.  I hope you don't mind the e-mail, but it is the easiest was to let you all know.

We love our kids,


We couldn't decide whether to head up to Logan on Friday or Saturday, and made the mistake to wait until Saturday. Apparently Amber and her family were there Friday when Lexi arrived that evening. I really wish I could have been there for the talk that they had. But here is an email that I received the following day.

My dear family,

Last evening Lexi and her family made it to Logan.  They had planned to come earlier, but after they left Page on Thursday evening, they made it as far as Kanab and were 'spent' and stayed there.  They got the last rooms at a hotel.  They traveled to Bountiful, greeted loved ones there, repacked, and came on up.  David's friends knew they were coming also, and they and their wives gathered spontaneously at our house around 8:00 (we were getting close to Scott's bedtime.) There were 20 of us.

When they arrived, they spent some time with the puppies outside before coming in.  They were very distraught and downcast when we hugged them at the door.  We visited briefly and then gathered to the kitchen where the counters are full of food.  We had found a video of "Baby David" earlier and we all sat down to watch it.  It was great.  We then just started telling David stories and the laughter returned.  Lexi and her Dad wanted to give us all the details of David's passing.  It was interesting for us to know that David was still conscious for a while, although in shock and not in pain.  He was with those he loved and they were holding him and expressing their love for him.  He was able to squeeze Lexi's hand 1-2-3 and also blink his eyes 1-2-3 which was their signal "I love you".  Lexi and her Dad were very composed as they talked with us. 

We learned that when Lexi's Dad swam out to retrieve David, he didn't have a life jacket on and he knew David would probably take him under also.  It was then that his foot touched the underwater mesa and he had footing.  He later learned that he was a few feet from the edge of that mesa and it dropped off for hundreds of feet.  This was the same area where two ladies died earlier and it took days for divers to retrieve their bodies. 

We ended the night with ice cream which is what the guys always did with David at the house.  Everyone left before 1:00am (Scott and I stayed awake).  The Jarvis family was so grateful to spend the time with us and felt much better after they came.  They are staying at the apartment but will probably spend a lot of time here. 

I hope this helps us all as we deal with David's passing.

We love you,


We finally made it up to Logan on Saturday morning. When we arrived at the house, several of the adults were preparing to go to the Logan temple. Lance decided to stay home while I went with to the temple. Outside the temple, I saw Lexi for the first time. I remember hardly knowing what to say and feeling completely helpless to comfort my friend and sister. 

When we got into the temple, we asked if there was any way that we could just get dressed and go into the celestial room. But they asked if we would do an ordinance first. So we did a few sealings. Lexi and her parents were there, along with Amber and Chad, and Melissa, Garrett and I.

I will never forget when we were in that sealing room. Lexi was kneeling at the altar, and the temple worker asked for her name. When she said Lexi Hinton, the gentlemen ask if we knew the young man that had been killed that week. She choked out the words "My husband" and the temple worker immediate froze and dropped the pencil he was holding to the floor as the rest of us tried holding back tears. Then he simply said, "You are in the right place, today" and proceeded on.

I'm not sure how long we sat in the celestial room. I watched people come and leave. It brought such peace to sit there in the temple and really think about the bigger picture. I wont say that we left happy, or that we suddenly understood why this had happened. But for a small moment, everything was ok.

I don't remember many of the details of what happened between then and the viewing. I think we mostly just hung around the house, chatting, telling favorite stories about David, and planning his funeral.

There was a viewing for David on Sunday evening. A few of us went early to help set up pictures and make sure everything was ready. I remember Amber and I were putting up some pictures when suddenly we heard Lexi screaming. It was one of the worst sounds I have ever heard. We both looked at each other and tried to prepare ourselves for what was coming. We walked around the corner to find Lexi barely able to stand, screaming as she looked upon David's body. She was clinging to her dad, who was all but holding her up. She kept trying to back away and refused to look at him, but her dad held her still. As her screaming calmed a little, she slowly eased closer. I remember seeing her shutter and have the most difficult time looking him over. As her eyes were closed, trying to look anywhere but at him, I heard her whisper that it was like seeing it all over again. Suddenly she was right back on that boat when the accident happened.

The Hinton and Jarvis family had an astounding amount of people show up to support them in their grief. The viewing was scheduled from 6-8p on Sunday. At 10:30pm, the mortuary closed the doors and stopped letting people in. We were told there were perhaps up to 700 people still outside waiting in line. There were some who told us they had been waiting in line for 4 hours by the time they finally made it up to the front. Wow. It amazes me to this day. During the funeral, the place was packed. The chapel was full, as well as the entire overfill area. I'm not sure if there was even any standing room back there.

I know it's difficult to lose a family member, no matter what the circumstances. But I feel like it hit Lance especially hard. Here were two brothers that had always struggled to get along. Their missions overlapped, and they went 4 years without seeing each other, which both were ok with. Then David gets back from his mission, they have both grown up, and suddenly they find they can tolerate to be in the same room together. And then it got to a point where they could even consider each other friends. After David and Lexi got married, we hung out quite a bit. Lexi was quickly becoming my favorite person in the world and my new best friend, and Lance and David seemed to be getting along. I think Lance felt like he and David had fought for so long, and that he was barely beginning to get to know him when he was taken.

I want to share part of Amber's blog that she wrote after the accident. She said it better than I could:

Before I get into the funeral, there are some events that happened in the week prior to the accident that I want to share.  
      - David had a good job at Utah State that he started just a month or 2 before the accident - which provided life insurance for him.  Blessing.  
      - He and Lexi were trying to decide if they should renew their contract on their apartment, but I think on accident one of them forgot to sign it, so Lexi didn't have to worry about going through the hassle of selling her contract or trying to get out of if.  Blessing.  
      - Other than at Christmas and Weddings, my family has only had a real "Family Reunion" with everyone in Logan for a few days once, and that was 3 years ago when David got home from his mission and Garrett left on his in the same week.  That was the last time we took family pictures. Usually most of us get together on the 4th of July, but there are usually a few missing.  This year, instead of getting together then, we all decided to get together the 1st weekend in August.  We all spent an entire weekend together with no drama, just fun.  This was the weekend before David passed away.  So we ALL got to see him and spend time with him for his last weekend.  Blessing.
      - The weekend before our reunion, David and Lexi came down to Lehi for the weekend to watch our kids while we were out of town.  He loves his nieces and nephews, and they love him.  They played the whole weekend.  Blessing.
      - Lexi's family goes to Lake Powell every summer (I think) and they were all able to spend time with him on their trip, which he went to directly from our family reunion.  So he spent his entire last week with his families and people he loves.  Blessing.
      - On the boat at the time of the accident, there was someone who for a job did something with First Responders, or with accident relief, I don't remember what it was, but basically he was trained to know exactly what to do in accident situations.  There was a nurse on the boat.  Lexi and her friend that were also on the boat had taken a first aid class together in high school and were always partnered up, so together they knew exactly what to do for CPR and other first aid that was needed. On that boat, they had zero doubt after he passed that they had done absolutely everything that they could for him, and that he wasn't in pain.  Zero wondering if they could have done anything differently to save him.  Blessing.
      - My dad, the week before, had taken a new job at the University that would move him to a different office.  David used to come visit him a lot at his old office.  My dad wouldn't have to go back to that office to relive the memories of those visits.  Blessing.
      - When Lexi's dad went out to rescue David, after he was in the water he realized that David is a big guy, he won't be able to swim back with him.  At that moment his feet touched the ground so that he could walk to him.  They later found out that David was just a few feet away from an underwater cliff, and if that mesa hadn't been there for Lexi's dad to walk on, David's body would have gone hundreds of feet under water and possibly have been lost.  Blessing.
      - I won't go into details of the accident, but basically the boat hit an underwater rock that wasn't marked.  David and Lexi were sitting at the front of the boat with their backs to the front.  When they hit the rock, both of them flew off of the boat, and as soon as David realized what was happening he pushed Lexi as hard as he could back on to the boat.  He saved her.  Blessing.
      - After he flew out of the boat, he went under and the propeller got him.  They were able to bring him back onto the boat and work on him.  He was in shock.  He felt no pain.  Blessing.
      - He couldn't talk, but could communicate by blinking.  Still no pain, they were able to say their goodbyes to him and tell him how much he was loved.  Blessing.
      - After seeing the extent of his injuries, if he had survived, he would have lost an arm and both legs.  His quality of life would have been nothing.  He and Lexi had even talked before all of this how if he didn't have legs or arms, he would want to die. He didn't have to live that way.  Blessing.

      All of things, looking at them from a worldly perspective, it all looks like it could be coincidence. That most of these things weren't blessings.  To me, looking at everything together like this, it shows me how much Heavenly Father loves us.  All of things things aren't normal.  Happening throughout years, sure, they are normal things.  But for all of these things to happen right before and around the accident, it shows me that Heavenly Father knew that his time was coming.  He wanted David to enjoy his last few weeks on Earth, and wanted us to be able to enjoy our time with him and have a few good last memories.  
      Throughout the whole thing, from the minute we found out, I know that everything has been about David, but me and my family have never felt so much love towards us.  It was really overwhelming to see friends from our childhoods coming out of the woodwork to reach out to us and tell us how sorry they were, or how much our family has meant to them.  People from our wards and past wards.  Old colleagues.  Hundreds of people.  People that I didn't think even really remembered us.  We felt so much love.  When we went to set up for the funeral, only about 5 extra rows of folding chairs had been set up.  They told us that we wouldn't need more than that, that we'd be lucky to even have those 5 rows filled.  They didn't know how much David and our family was loved.  We went and found every chair in the building pretty much and set them all up in the gym, and even up on the stage.  Later, during the funeral when Chad and I were speaking, we looked up and saw that every chair was filled, and people were still standing around the edges of the gym.  It was amazing.

Julie and Serena sang the opening song “For Good” (Because I Knew You, from “Wicked”), then Lance gave the opening prayer.  Chad and I then gave the Life Sketch for David.  It wasn’t until we got up there that we looked back and the entire place was packed, with people standing because there weren’t enough chairs.  David would have loved it.  
After our talk, Josh Barson, David’s best friend, got up and shared a lot of stories about David that him and his friends had put together.  It was really good. Then Lexi got up. She told everyone the basic story of what happened, and how they all felt peace about it.  It was tragic, but things are going to be OK.  It was good to see how much faith and trust in the Lord she has.  I think everyone needed to see it. Then the Bishop got up and said a few words, then cousin Steve, Steven E. Snow from the 70’s got up and spoke, about the atonement, the plan of salvation, everything. It was good. Then we closed with all of David’s friends getting up there and singing “Army of Helaman” for the closing song. They said that whenever they would be goofing off doing something just kinda dangerous, David would stop them and say “Guys, if I die, I want you to sing at my funeral.”  “Army of Helaman” was also the song that they all sung at each other’s mission farewells, and they thought that it was really appropriate to sing it for him.  It was perfect.  

The funeral was perfect. I'm not sure there was a person in that church who didn't feel the spirit, whether they were members or not. I can't imagine what Lexi went through being right there watching her husband die with nothing she could do. I can't imagine how Scott and Sharon felt when they got that terrible call. No parent should have to go through that. I'm not sure how they acted behind closed doors, but they were definitely rocks of support for everyone. It seemed whenever someone new stopped by to give their condolences, it ended up being Scott and Sharon that would comfort them. What an amazing family I married into!

All of these pictures were taken just a few days before he died.

I hadn't really known David that long. He was on his mission when I met and married Lance. And I probably really didn't know David that well. But I know that he was so full of life and loved being around people. He loved Lexi. He loved his friends. He loved his family. The last year has been rough without ya buddy. Love ya bye.