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Our View: Answers will help community come to terms with tragedy

September 22, 2018

Lake Havasu City has endured more than its share of tragedy this month.

Monday’s murder-suicide on Beachcomber Boulevard came on the heels of the deadly boat crash on Lake Havasu a few weeks earlier. Both events rocked this community; the pain is fresh and palpable.

These kinds of tragic circumstances occur daily in the rest of the world, but rarely here at home. In a lot of ways, even though we have more than 50,000 residents and many more visitors each year, Havasu is still a small town. Havasu usually feels like a safe place.

Monday’s acts of violence feel like a punch to the gut. In truth, it’s more than that. The loss of those three people will forever affect hundreds of people in our community, and it erodes away at our sense of general security — these scars will remain with us in perpetuity. The pain of grief will fade, and life will move on, but the deaths of Hannah and Jamie Gottier will be felt for years to come.

Hannah Gottier seemed to be a typical 14-year-old freshman, a good student who was active in Girl Scouts and cheerleading. Jamie Reese Gottier appeared to be the definition of a good mom who worked hard to support her daughter’s adolescent activities. Their lives were cut short in their own home, a place that should have been a place of refuge, betrayed by a person who should have kept them safe.

It’s not clear what kind of home life the Gottiers had. There has been a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking and wild speculation going on in the days that followed the killings, but there doesn’t seem to be any kind of indication in criminal records that the husband and father was a violent man.

Police say they had no prior contacts with the family. It’s still unclear what made him snap. Until we learn more, it will be difficult to make any sense of a senseless situation.

We’ll probably never know the complete details, but answers will come eventually. (Sooner rather than later, we hope. It was unfortunate that it took police a day and a half to release vital information to the public; the absence of answers left people to fill in the blanks on their own, and they certainly did that.)

Those answers, whatever they are, may hurt to hear. But they’ll help the community understand and come to terms with their grief, and move on.

For now, talking about the victims and our shared grief seems to be an effective way of dealing with the pain. Kudos to Lake Havasu High School for making counselors available to students, and allowing students and staff to participate in a memorial to Hannah.

Talking about death is a necessary part of grieving. If you’re in pain, talk to someone. Anyone. Talk to a friend, a family member, a pastor, a school counselor. Memorials and candlelight vigils have become a standard way of processing death and tragedy, but you don’t have to wait for something so organized. Just talk.

— Today’s News-Herald

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