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NEWTOWN, Conn. — As a nation mourns the loss of life in Connecticut the very personal nature of such a public tragedy came clearer into focus.
Among the 20 children killed is Emilie Parker, the daughter of Robbie and Alyssa Parker who grew up in the Ogden area. They still have family in Utah, family that like so many others boarded flights and headed to the small town of Newton, Conn., to offer and receive what comfort they can.
Emilie's grandfather Randy Parker, who lives in Ogden and raised his son there, said his granddaughter lit up a room. He said it's impossible to comprehend that he'll never see her again.
"Adults make the choices they do, but these innocent children, they didn't deserve any of this," he said.
Parker remembered hearing about the school shootings in Connecticut right away Friday morning. He just had no idea it was his granddaughter's school. And then he got a phone call: The shooting was at Sandy Hook Elementary and Emilie could not be accounted for.
"She was very loving," Parker said. "She just loved taking care of people. If she saw people with their feelings hurt, it was, ‘What can I do to help?' She was that kind of child."
Parker raised his kids in Ogden before Robbie and his wife, Alissa, moved away so Robbie could go to school and eventually take a job in the medical field.
Dave Christiansen is the stake president in the LDS church where the Parkers used to attend before moving away. They know the family well, but can't imagine what they're going through. What makes it all so much worse is that Emilie's other grandfather, Doug Cottle, passed away earlier this year after a bicycle accident in the popular Logan to Jackson run.
"Doug's got a little granddaughter on his lap, and she's being taken care of," Christiansen said.
My son and his wife are tucking their children into bed, and there's an empty bed. And it breaks my heart.
–grandfather Randy Parker
Parker will fly to Connecticut tomorrow. His wife left this afternoon. But he can't stop thinking about what his son is going through.
"My son and his wife are tucking their children into bed, and there's an empty bed. And it breaks my heart," he said.
A Facebook page called the Emilie Parker Fund* is eliciting heartfelt sorrow among strangers, friends, well-wishers reeling from the tragedy.
"I've been crying for you all day," posted Suzy Steed. "I'm so very sorry for loss. I will continue to pray for you."
Wrote Angela Hoerst, "Sweet baby...robbed of her life too soon. You have all of my tears this day little one."
The Parker family is among the 19 others who lost children Friday, and the grieving extends to the adults also gunned down, including the mother of the suspected gunman, a teacher at the school
*ksl.com has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does ksl.com assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.