Dameatrius McCreary was remembered yesterday as an active 5-year-old boy who enjoyed the limelight, the clown in the family who loved GI Joes, helicopters, video games, and strawberry milk.
"He was always laughing, always joking, and always caring for other people," The Rev. Mark Tipton said yesterday at the funeral of the Oregon boy, who was struck and killed by a car Thursday.
"We're celebrating a boy who gave so much in such a short time," said Mr. Tipton, lead pastor of the Oregon Church of the Nazarene, where the funeral was held.
"I have seen - as has this family - the love of a community putting their arms around this tragedy," Mr. Tipton said. "I know that the family today would like to thank the entire community for their support."
Since the accident, people, businesses, and organizations throughout the area have rallied around the family and shown their support largely through donations, said Larry Schaffer, funeral director for the Eggleston Meinert Pavley Funeral Home on Coy Road in Oregon.
From the funeral and church services to the casket and the burial, he said almost every service was donated.
"I'm so overwhelmed at how comforting it is that people who don't even know us are helping us," Dameatrius' grandmother, Colleen Gamble, said at the funeral.
As the lyrics to "Remember Me This Way" and "Angel" flowed throughout the church during the funeral, about 200 friends and family members dabbed at tears in their eyes and comforted each other as they watched a video memorial remembering the Coy Elementary School kindergartner.
Several Oregon officials also came to pay their condolences, including Mayor Marge Brown, Superintendent of Schools John Hall, Coy Elementary Principal Lonny Rivera, Oregon Police Chief Tom Gulch, and other members of the Oregon Police Department.
Both Superintendent Hall and Mayor Brown led prayers during the service, and Mayor Brown read from a plaque given to Dameatrius' family by Toledo Mayor Jack Ford and his wife, Cynthia, which stated that Dameatrius "was a special little boy who touched the lives of those he knew. His presence will be greatly missed, but his spirit will live on forever."
Several of the funeral attendees wore buttons with Dameatrius' picture on them, and most were wearing small green ribbons showing support for the family's effort to ban cell-phone use while driving. Green was chosen because it was the boy's favorite color.
Dameatrius had just stepped off a school bus and was attempting to cross Starr Avenue to get to his home when he was hit by a car driven by Angelique M. Dipman, 27, of Ottawa County's Clay Township. Ms. Dipman said she was distracted by her cell phone when the accident occurred.
"You should just pull over when you talk on a cell phone," said 8-year-old Shannon Barney, Dameatrius' aunt.
"Our heart goes out to [Dameatrius' family]," Mayor Brown said. "Our prayers are with them as they struggle through the next days, weeks, years."
Out of respect for the family, Mayor Brown said she plans to ask the city's safety committee to consider creating a law that would ban cell-phone use while driving in Oregon.
Brooklyn, Ohio, was the first city in the nation to enact a ban on hand-held cell phones in 1999. Some other cities and at least 16 states nationwide have enacted total or partial bans on cell phone use while driving, mostly on hand-held cell phones.
Some safety advocates contend that even "hands-off" cell phones activated by voice or used by wearing headsets can still be distracting if using them while driving.
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