Edwin’s Walk

By Brad Dison

At about 4:30 p.m. on June 19, 1999, 51-year-old Edwin was enjoying his daily stroll along the highway near his home in Lovell, Maine. It was a gorgeous walk under the shade of a variety of Oak and evergreen trees. Although there was no sidewalk, Edwin felt safe as he walked along the gravel shoulder of the road. Old stone fences stood just off of the west side of state highway 5. An occasional break in the fences and trees offered Edwin gorgeous views of Maine’s countryside.

41-year-old disabled former construction worker Bryan Smith and Bullet, his Rottweiler, were camping on nearby Kezar Lake. In preparation for their camping trip, Bryan had filled his ice chest with steaks and cold drinks. Twenty years earlier, Bryan had an accident at work which severely injured his back. His chronic back pain was so intense that his mobility was limited and he was only able to walk with a cane. Much to his pleasure, his work-related injury did not hinder his driving ability. While at the campsite, Bryan got a craving for something sweet. When he realized he had not brought any snacks, he decided to go to the nearest store to get some Mars candy bars. He loaded Bullet into his 1985 Dodge Caravan and headed to the store. As they drove, Bryan heard a commotion coming from behind him. He turned and saw Bullet trying to get to the steaks in the cooler.

Edwin was walking up a short hill against traffic when he saw Bryan’s Dodge veer toward him. There was no time for Edwin or Bryan to react. Bryan’s van struck Edwin on his right side. The force of the impact threw Edwin about twelve feet into the air and into the ditch near a pile of rocks. Bryan slammed on the brakes.

Stunned and injured from the impact, Edwin looked up and saw the back of Bryan’s van. He noticed the back of the van was dusty and dirty. He carefully wiped blood out of his eyes. He glanced around and saw Bryan sitting on a nearby rock with a cane across his lap. When Bryan noticed that Edwin was conscious, he calmly, yet somewhat cheerily, reassured him that help was on the way. Bryan then commiserated, “Ain’t the two of us just had the [expletive] of luck?” Edwin gave no reply. He looked at his body and noticed that it was “wrenched half a turn to the right.” Bryan told him that his right leg was broken in “maybe six places.” Edwin drifted in and out of consciousness while Bryan calmly waited for emergency services to arrive.

Edwin regained consciousness when Emergency Medical Technicians cut the jeans from his lower body. One of the bones in Edwin’s right leg was crushed into something resembling “many marbles in a sock.” He suffered a fractured hip and pelvis, four broken ribs, a scalp laceration, and his spine was chipped in eight places. EMTs strapped him onto a gurney and loaded him into an ambulance. The EMT treating Edwin told the driver “You want to really hammer it.” The ambulance sped off and traveled at speeds nearing 100 miles per hour toward the nearest hospital. Once at the hospital, doctors quickly made the decision to fly Edwin to a larger hospital which was better equipped to render the aid that Edwin’s injuries required. One of the EMTs asked Edwin if he had ever flown in a helicopter before. Edwin tried to respond but suddenly struggled to breathe. He was only able to whisper, “Feel like I’m drowning.” Edwin’s lung had collapsed. EMTs inserted a breathing tube and Edwin was able to breathe again. Edwin remembered looking out at the bright summer sky and thinking “I am actually lying in death’s doorway.”

The EMTs’ quick response saved Edwin’s life. Doctors performed several “marathon surgical procedures” and repaired his broken body. Ten days after the accident, Edwin was finally able to get out of the hospital bed. He was only able to sit up for short times before the pain to his hip and pelvis was too much to endure. Edwin’s recovery was slow and painful. Sometime during Edwin’s recovery, his wife bought Bryan’s van for $1,600 to keep Bryan from selling pieces of the van as souvenirs.

Police learned that Bryan had several driving offenses to his discredit. He was convicted of two speeding violations in 1988, operating under the influence in 1989, failing to produce proof insurance in 1991, two more speeding violations in 1994, and driving to endanger and failing to stop for a police officer in connection with an incident in 1998. On September 30, 1999, a grand jury charged Bryan with aggravated assault and driving to endanger. If convicted, Bryan would face more than 10 years in prison.

Bryan was remorseful but claimed that he was being treated unfairly. “To be honest with you,” he told reporters, “I am very deeply sorry.” He argued that “I’m being used as a guinea pig. I know I hit him. I didn’t mean to. Somebody can’t accept that. Why can’t they accept that it was an accident?” Edwin was angry that Bryan was able to keep his driving privileges for three months following the collision, and argued for jail time for Bryan to keep him from driving as long as possible. Bryan eventually pled guilty to driving to endanger and received a six-month suspended sentence. As a condition of his plea agreement, he was banned from driving for a year. Edwin, shocked by the lite sentence, referred to the plea agreement as “irresponsible public business.” Edwin angrily criticized Bryan to reporters, “This guy…has the IQ of a tomato-soup can. An empty tomato-soup can.”

In September of 2000, Bryan’s mother became concerned because none of the family had heard from Bryan in three days. She went to Bryan’s trailer but was unable to get him to answer the door. Bryan’s brother asked that a deputy from the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department check on Bryan. A deputy peered through the windows and saw Bryan lying in his bed with the covers pulled up to his chest. The deputy knocked on the window and shouted but Bryan would not respond. The only sound from the trailer came from Bryan’s two Rottweilers, Bullet and Pistol, who barked at the deputy. The deputy forced his way into Bryan’s trailer and an animal control officer took charge of Bullet and Pistol. The deputy checked but found no pulse. 43-year-old Bryan was dead. The deputy found seven different medications that Bryan had been taking for pain and depression. There was no evidence to suspect foul play and they found no suicide note. Three months later, the medical examiner revealed that, based on Bryan’s toxicology report, he had died of an accidental overdose of the strong painkiller Fentanyl.

According to his headstone, Bryan died on September 21, 2000, which was Edwin’s 53rd birthday. In addition, Bryan and Edwin shared the same middle name. Edwin, the man whom Bryan hit with his van, was the middle name of horror fiction writer Stephen King.

1. The Bangor Daily News, January 5, 2000, p.11.
2. The Province (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), June 18, 2000, p.38.
3. The Observer (London, England), September 17, 2000, P.224.
4. The Bangor Daily News, September 25, 2000, p.1.
5. The Bangor Daily News, September 27, 2000, p.14.
6. The Bangor Daily News, October 30, 2000, p.3.
7. The Bangor Daily News, December 6, 2000, p.15.
8. Find A Grave. “Bryan Edwin Smith.” Accessed September 27, 2020. findagrave.com/memorial/5083094/bryan-edwin-smith.

NSU Men’s Basketball: Demons set Oct. 22 date for annual coaching and professional development clinic

NSU Head Coach Mike McConathy

The annual Northwestern State Basketball Coaching and Professional Development Clinic will take place Oct. 22 inside Prather Coliseum.

Cost for the event, which runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., is $30. Registration can be handled online at http://www.DemonBasketballCamps.com or in person the day of the clinic. The cost includes a provided lunch and a T-shirt.

Scheduled to appear and present at the clinic are Demon basketball head coach Mike McConathy, associate head coach Jeff Moore and special assistant to the head coach Johnny Cox, Lady Demon assistant coaches Mike Brown and Mike Pittman and NSU Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development Kaitlyn McCanna.

The clinic is open to coaches from the middle school level and above. For more information on the clinic, call 318-357-4274

Judge Barrett Will Interpret the Law, Not Make It

By Royal Alexander

In our Constitutional scheme it is fundamentally not the role of unelected, life-tenured federal judges to legislate from the bench. Rather, it is the role of the judge to precisely interpret and enforce the law as it is written. To do anything else is an illegitimate exercise of the judicial power.

Making policy as a “Super Legislature” is a perversion of a judge’s duty to be an unbiased arbiter of the law and it violates our constitutional system of checks and balances and the critically important Separation of Powers. Policymaking and lawmaking are exclusively the province of the elected branches. The Legislative Branch is specifically charged with making law. That’s its purpose in our constitutional scheme and our democratic process requires that any change to our law come from either an amendment to the Constitution or a revision of a statute, but not from the whim of a court.

Judge Amy Coney Barret’s judicial philosophy and methodology of judging stem directly from the school of legal analysis advanced by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Like Justice Scalia, Judge Barrett is a strict constructionist, a textualist, and an originalist. Together, these terms mean that she will interpret the law in the strictest, most straightforward manner possible based upon the text itself—the plain, precise, literal meaning of the words (textualism), and the original meaning of the words (originalism) at the time the Framers drafted the document. Textualism is most often applied to the interpretation of statutes and Originalism is most often applied to interpretation of the Constitution.

From a standpoint of constitutional interpretation, this view of judging is grounded in the belief that the plain meaning of the words in our Constitution represent timeless principles and transcend every generation. What Judge Barrett firmly rejects is the view that the Constitution is a “living organism” that is “dynamic,” evolving, adapting and subject to change without being formally amended. That’s the very definition of “judicial activism” and it poses a danger to our form of government.

(Judicial activism is the reason for the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision, which has no constitutional foundation in the 14th Amendment or anywhere else and amounts to one of the most egregious examples of judicial activism and judicial policymaking in American history).

There is no question that competent judging requires a sharp legal mind. However, I think it also requires something equally crucial, and rare: genuine humility. The judge must never lose sight of the fact that he or she occupies the role of an umpire or referee and only serves a legitimate judicial function by striving to accurately interpret the law as it is written, never conjuring it up or concocting it; never substituting the judge’s personal experiences, policy preferences or cultural inclinations for those of elected lawmakers. This intellectual discipline is grounded in humility.

I sense that humility in Judge Barrett. Everything I have read, summaries of her past judicial opinions, including her dissents, as well as speeches she has made, all lead me to conclude that she not only possesses the correct judicial temperament, and a keen understanding of the proper judicial function, but, more importantly, a sincere humility in her role as a judge.

When our branches of government are not required to remain in their respective constitutional orbits, our form of government cannot work. This need for restraint certainly includes the judicial branch and the federal courts. Judge Barrett is sensitive to the need for, and reflective of, a modest, humble role for judges and the need for judicial restraint.

Closely adhering to the dictates of our Constitution and the Separation of Powers is the only way “we the people” will remain in control of our government and the laws we live under, so that our government can truly be said to derive its “just powers” from the “consent of the governed.”

The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Sabine Parish Journal. If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the SPJ, please send it to SPJManyLa@gmail.com.

Ceramics class to begin Oct 15

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A beginning ceramics class, “Playing in the Mud,” will be offered through Northwestern State University’s Office of Electronic and Continuing Education starting Thursday, Oct. 15. The class will be offered on Thursday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. through Nov. 5 In Room 113 of the Fine Arts Annex.
The fee is $99 plus a $20 material fee paid directly to the instructor on the first night of class. Enrollment to the class is limited.

This course is an introduction to working with clay. The student will learn hand-building and sculptural techniques, as well as work on the potter’s wheel. There will also be room for intermediate and advanced students to take the class who want to use the facilities during the class time.

To register for classes, go to https://checkout.nsula.edu/.

Notice of Death – October 6, 2020

Brenda Elaine Devaney of Florien, Louisiana
January 5, 1943 – September 30, 2020
Service: Saturday October, 10 at 11 am at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church

Janice “Jan” Anne Broderick
December 30, 1933 – October 05, 2020
Because of continuing COVID-19 restrictions, the family will hold a private memorial at a later date.

Jeannie Rachal
October 6, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Martin Luther Howard Sr.
November 7, 1920 – October 1, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Vanilla Hardy
May 11, 1970 – September 23, 2020
Arrangements TBA




For the first time, United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA) will kick off its annual campaign on October 1 without the aid of a large fundraising event. In past years, UWNWLA would host the Annual Campaign Kickoff event as a rally to the start of the fundraising season.

“This year has been a huge struggle for so many in our community, and United Way is no exception, says Dr. Bruce Willson, president and CEO. “While fundraising and corporate giving for us is down, our work has never been more necessary.”

Even though this year has proven to be challenging, UWNWLA is optimistic that the community will come together to provide the resources that are important to so many throughout Northwest Louisiana. Corporate partners such as AEP SWEPCO, CenterPoint, IP Mansfield, Atmos Energy, and many more have already launched their annual fundraising activities. While this is exciting, other corporate partners will be unable to participate in the 2020 United Way Campaign due to layoffs, furloughed employees, economic instability, and more, making it difficult for United Way to reach this year’s $1.3 million fundraising goal.

COVID-19 has significantly impacted UWNWLA’s campaign model. “We’ve updated our website and created online resources to overcome the inability to hold face-to-face campaign events at workplaces,” says LaToria W. Thomas, vice president of resource development. “We find that it’s the personal connection with our donors that helps us fundraise for our internal programs and the dozens of community programs we support. Current restrictions will hinder us from making those connections.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, United Way did not close programs; it increased them. In March, Louisiana 211, health and human services hotline, expanded its calls and texting capabilities to respond to requests for assistance related to COVID-19. In April, United Way launched the United for NWLA Fund, an emergency assistance fund that has provided over $50,000 to individuals and families affected financially by the pandemic. In May, the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) began welcoming new clients to provide one-to-one financial counseling services. To date, the FEC has helped clients reduce over $50,000 in debt. Over the past 6 months, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has increased the number of children enrolled in the program.

If your company wants to become a corporate partner, contact LaToria Thomas at (318)606-6589.

Rumor Has it!

Have you heard any good rumors lately? Or as the kids today say, “I have some piping hot tea ready for your consumption”.

Did you see what she posted on Facebook? Did you hear that they are split up and there was another person involved? I heard it was all her fault, she sure did gain a lot of weight. Their child was caught drinking at a party over the weekend. I heard their child was expelled from school. I thought they were Christians? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I heard she was caught with her tinsel down around her knees.

I threw in the last one to see if you were paying attention and to make sure you know your Steel Magnolias lines.

Most disturbing rumors and gossip start with some variation of, “you didn’t hear this from me but…” or, “don’t repeat this but….”. If you are an old pro at this you may even seem like you are truly concerned about the victim in which you are speaking of. “We should be praying for them because I heard…..”. Or, you may end your statements with, “Bless their hearts”.

Can you just hear Claire saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody come sit by me”?

Rumors can be so hurtful to the families who are involved. If something is rumor-worthy, typically it is because it is causing someone, somewhere an intense amount of pain. Pain, which will more than likely take a long time to recover or perhaps never recover from.

I have a good friend who gave up gossiping for Lent a couple of years back and encouraged everyone to do the same. At first we all tried diligently to follow her lead. But, it was much harder than one could ever imagine. She took great joy in reminding us that we were gossiping. It is truly amazing what all she considered to be gossip. She ran a tight ship.

It became comical when we attempted to circumvent the system by saying, “Would it be considered gossip if I told you something that was absolutely true and I saw with my own eyes?” Another repeatedly used line was, “An example of gossip would be if I happen to tell you that I heard (you fill in the blank)”.

The whole Lenten season shined an unintended light on the amount of gossip that is shared among friends. When you remove gossip from your conversations your words are very limited in some cases or in our case it opened the door for more meaningful conversations.

People aren’t perfect and they will always be judged harshly by their critics. People will always have follies that land them in the center of someone’s conversation. They have since the beginning of time. The Holy Bible was built on mistakes, one parable at a time, and it shined an intentional light on our need for a savior.

One thing that most do not take in to consideration is that the problems you judge today may become your problem in the future. Life has a way of rewarding you when you take joy in relishing in the struggles of others. Life will humble every single one of us at some point in time.

Can you just imagine the rumor mill when Jesus was born and then walked on this earth?

He was born of a virgin. Mary could have been stoned to death. Mary’s son flipped over tables at the temple out of anger. He walked on water. He fed five thousand with five loaves. He healed the lepers and made the blind see. He raised people from the dead. All of these things, even by today’s standards, seem extremely rumor worthy.

Jesus befriended a woman at a well. I heard he told others he was the Son of Man. Who does he think he is?

I am not sure about you but I am eternally grateful that he will be the one who determines if we make it past the pearly gates and not a jury of our peers.

“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgement on it. There is only one lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” – James 4:11-12

NSU Football: Landry named William V. Campbell Trophy semifinalist

Northwestern State senior wide receiver Gavin Landry played a key role in the Demons offense setting several school records a season ago.

Ahead of his six-game spring season, Landry is part of another record-setting ensemble – the 199 college football players who have been named semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy. The list, which includes players from NCAA Divisions I, II and III as well as NAIA, was announced by the National Football Foundation & College Football Hall of Fame on Thursday morning.

The Campbell Trophy recognizes a college football player as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership. Nominees must be a senior or graduate student in his final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The 199 semifinalists are the most in the 31-year history of the award.

Landry, a summa cum laude graduate in business administration with a 3.93 grade point average, enjoyed his most successful statistical season in 2019, catching 26 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns in seven games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

That injury came as Landry, a White Castle native, set a career-long with a 54-yard catch-and-run touchdown against nationally ranked Central Arkansas.

Away from the field, Landry has been a four-year member of Northwestern State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was the group’s Community Service Outreach Representative. He is a four-year member of NSU’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, serving three years as a member of the Worship Team and as a Huddle Leader at middle and high school FCA retreats. He also volunteers with the Youth Group at Freedom Life Church in Natchitoches.

“Gavin’s story, overcoming heart surgery as a senior in high school, is matched only by his drive and determination,” said third-year head coach Brad Laird. “He has gone from a walk-on to a key member of our wide receiver group, and his leadership skills are unmatched. He has been one of our most respected players for what he does on the field and away from it. He embodies the characteristics you want to see from every student-athlete – handling his business on the field and in the classroom while giving his time to make everyone’s experience at Northwestern State a better one.

“Those parts of his personality fit in line with what the Campbell Trophy represents, and we feel Gavin is a perfect representation of those.”

Landry’s selection marks the second straight year a Demon has reached this stage as offensive lineman Chris Zirkle was a Campbell Trophy semifinalist in 2019.

He is one of three Southland Conference nominees, joining Abilene Christian’s Jack Gibbens and Lamar’s Bailey Giffen.

The NFF will announce 12-to-14 finalists in November, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. Later this year, one member of the class will be declared as the winner of the 31st Campbell Trophy and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.


Notice of Death – October 1, 2020

Betty Ann James Winslow
November 2, 1949 – September 20, 2020
Service: Sunday, October 4 at 11 am at the home of Robbin Mitchell, located at 8048 Hwy 120 in Robeline

Norman Ray Norsworthy
January 14, 1935 – September 30, 2020
Service: Monday, October 5 at 10 am in the chapel of Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches

Andy Wayne Airhart
October 06, 1943 – September 29, 2020
Service: Saturday, October 3 at 2 pm at St. Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches

Sherwood Lyles
June 24, 1941 – September 28, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Natalie Wilson
September 25, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Jessie Sawyer
September 24, 2020
Service: Saturday, October 3 at 11 am in the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, located at 318 North Street in Natchitoches

Vanilla Hardy
May 11, 1970 – September 23, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Willie Baldwin
September 23, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Willard Harry Kenneth Martin
December 02, 1934 – September 28, 2020
Service: Friday, October 2 at 2 pm at Southern Funeral Home