Don't take life for granted
By RON GOWER
Sometimes life deals us some very painful hands.
I was thinking this week when I read about Kimberly (Mateyak) Griffith, 45, and her two young daughters, Brenna, 12, and Mikaela, 8, drowning in their minivan during a flash flood last Friday in Pittsburgh.
How painful for Kimberly's husband and their two other children! Kimberly is a former resident of Tamaqua.
That incident made me think about a tragedy that happened 45 years ago this month, when I was growing up in Weissport.
I was 15 years old at the time and lived two doors away from the Dreher family and three doors away from the Moyers in the 300 block of White Street.
Aug. 15, 1966 started as a typical summer day, but happiness quickly succumbed to the dark doom.
Jon Scott Dreher, age 3, son of Donald and Dolores Dreher, went missing. The parents notified Weissport Chief of Police Benjamin Heydt, who lived about four doors from them.
A search was made by family members and neighbors.
Meanwhile, Arland F. Moyer, then 14, realized his little sisters, Bonnie, 2, and Arlene, 4, also were missing.
Arland checked around his house and saw a chair next to a deep freezer. He opened the lid of the freezer. Inside were the three toddlers, huddled together.
He lifted Bonnie from the box and placed her on the floor, then ran for help.
A day or so before, a family member cleaned the freezer and propped the lid. It was disconnected.
The freezer, about five feet long and two feet wide, was about four feet high. The children climbed on a chair to get inside it and somehow it closed. It couldn't be opened from the inside.
There were desperate efforts made to revive them, but without success.
The three children were the youngest in their respective families.
I remember how happy the Moyers were when Arlene was born because their first five children were boys. Bonnie provided an exclamation point to that glee.
The families were close. Both Arland Moyer and Donald Dreher had worked at the former Interstate Dress Carriers at the time.
The children of the two families were always playing together.
The house in which the Dreher family lived eventually became the site of another horrific event.
On the night of Dec. 5, 1997, two children died when trapped in a fire on the second floor of the home.
The Dreher family no longer lived here.
Killed in the inferno were brothers Cherokee Storm Kolb, 17 months, and Angelo David Rodriguez, 5.
The fire broke out during a homecoming party for Timothy Kolb. Kolb had just been released from Carbon County Prison, where he served four months on disorderly conduct and criminal mischief charges.
The night soon turned into chaos. Police determined that there were three fires in the apartment, and two were set.
The children died when people in the house tried to pull the couch outside and got it stuck in a doorway, blocking the entrance to get the children.
All were different incidents. All serve to remind us how fragile life is.
When you're a parent or grandparent, you realize this even more.
In all the above situations, all the victims were members of loving families. The lives of all the families literally changed forever in a single heartbeat.
That's why we have to give today our fullest attention, especially when it comes to the little folks in our lives.