Sign of the times

Vigil unites in grief and determination

As the world prepares to greet a new decade, a large group gathered for the erecting of a billboard in memory of three people whose lives were taken by drunk drivers in 2008, and whose loved ones must painfully face the future without them.

The sign features photos of Adam Landrum, 26; Meghann Smith, 18; and Eddie Haynes, 34, with the words, “A Message from Heaven … Don’t Drink and Drive.”

The event, a candlelight vigil and balloon release, was held Wednesday evening on Texas 105 West, near Sapp Road, a short distance from where Meghann Smith was struck and killed by a drunk driver Oct. 26, 2008 as she stood on the roadside waiting for her boyfriend to change a tire. Meghann left behind her parents and her older sister, who was seven months pregnant. The family said Meghann was very excited about the baby she had no idea she would never meet.

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Eddie Haynes was killed on Mother’s Day, 2008. Haynes and his wife Cheryl were thrown from his motorcycle after a pickup driven by a drunk driver and repeat offender turned in front of them on FM 2854 at Loop 336 in Conroe. Cheryl Haynes suffered traumatic injuries from which she has not recovered. The couple had two sons, 8-year-old Edward and 2-year-old Colin.

Adam Landrum was killed June 26, 2008, when a pickup driven by a drunk driver and illegal alien pulled out in front of his motorcycle as he drove on the Interstate 45 feeder in South Montgomery County. His 18-year-old sister, Jackie, was killed just two months before when an 18-wheeler turned across her lane with no warning as she drove to school. His parents have only their middle child, Patrick, remaining.

A disc jockey played songs that were favorites of the deceased, as attendees comforted one another, gazing upward at the sign and the nearly full moon. At one point, members of the victim’s families went forward in turn and released clusters of balloons into the sky. Some balloons were also released by friends and family who stood in the middle of the crowd.

Adam Landrum’s pastor spoke, as did prosecutor Rob Freyer, who tried the killer of Eddie Haynes.

Flyers were distributed, with the same photos, reminding people that thousands more will die from drinking and driving.

Eddie Haynes’ brother, Robert Bach, organized the event and made the arrangements for the billboard. He began planning the sign some time ago, which was only to include his brother, at first. But Robert was so touched by the stories of Adam and Meghann that he chose to include them, to place their faces beside Eddie’s. All of the families hope seeing the faces of the lives lost so senselessly might prevent others from experiencing their pain.
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The event was attended not only by the victims’ families and friends, but by members of the Conroe Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, the Pct. 2 Constable’s Office, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Montgomery County Citizens Academy Alumni Association, the Conroe and Lake Conroe Fire Departments

The fire departments strategically placed their trucks, and police placed their cars, so that those in attendance could safely get in and out of their cars safely.

Click images to enlarge.

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