Hemelt: Remembering the people just as crucial as the tragedies

Published 12:03 am Saturday, September 3, 2016

Haley Moore, Taylor Friloux, Tory Horton and Spencer Chauvin.

Before this year, I couldn’t come up with a scenario in which those names would ever appear in the same sentence.

Unfortunately, all four are now dead; each killed this year in ways seemingly more unnecessary and unfathomable than the one before.

Their deaths, all in the last five months, have rocked LaPlace, the River Region and, even, our country.

National headlines and television crews documented the initial heartbreak that came with each death and news story. As often happens, the names started to fade in the days and weeks that followed, as stories of new tragedies inadvertently replaced the spotlight on the older ones.

It happens fast, but it doesn’t have to take place with 100 percent inevitability.

These four people, and so many more in our community, are not statistics, but, hopefully, agents for positive change.

Haley Moore was 5 years old when she died May 21 in her dad’s LaPlace home because of the accidental discharge of a firearm she was handling.

Law enforcement and local prosecution found no criminal fault in the tragic circumstances, but the lesson in her death is abundantly clear.

Please secure your firearms at all times. Besides the devastation that comes with the violent loss of such a young member of our community, there remains gut-wrenching sadness for her loved ones to endure without young Haley by their side.

Taylor Friloux, 21, of LaPlace was killed June 29 while conducting her managerial duties at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers in Kenner, the victim of a ruthless armed robbery.

Four people have been arrested in her killing, and probable cause for each was deemed in August by the 24th Judicial District Court to continue holding them while the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office works to secure grand jury indictments.

Tory Horton, 16, was shot and killed in broad daylight, the victim, police say, of assailants who had no direct beef with him, but were instead looking for his brother.

Horton was days away from beginning his sophomore year at East St. John High School and was out Aug. 5 looking for a fresh haircut.

The line was too long at his preferred barber’s shop, authorities said, so he decided to head to a near-by convenience store. It’s there that Horton was stalked and eventually shot one time in the chest at approximately 3:43 p.m.

In the week that followed Horton’s shooting, the Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of two people and as many as two or more suspects could face criminal cases as the active investigation continues.

Spencer Chauvin, the most recent of our local tragedies, died Sunday while serving in fire department response to an active crash scene on Interstate 10 near LaPlace.

Chauvin was struck and killed when a bus barreled through the initial crash site, causing a massive wreck, dozens of injuries and three deaths.

The bus driver, a reported illegal alien, is facing homicide charges and a litany of other offenses. An eventual deportation seems possible if he doesn’t first spend decades of jail time in the United States.

His status as a Honduran citizen and the shady procedures that possibly led to a busload of potentially undocumented workers have turned this story into a political landmine that already has our state’s attorney general and the mayor of New Orleans sparring in the press.

Haley Moore, Taylor Friloux, Tory Horton and Spencer Chauvin are more than political sound bites and should never be boiled down to talking points.

It’s our job, as a community, to always remember these individuals for the special people they were, the real contributions they made and the lost potential we all missed out on with their passings.

Share their stories as often as you can with whomever you come across and, please, don’t forget to fill us in at L’OBSERVATEUR, as well.

We’re a better place for remembering Haley Moore, Taylor Friloux, Tory Horton and Spencer Chauvin.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545  or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.