‘PEACE IN HORRIBLE TIMES’

A garden honors a boy who was a star wrestler at his school and loved fishing, riding go-karts and dirt bikes, playing basketball and football, and racing.

A bench will honor a girl who loved going to church, playing on the monkey bars, fishing and spending time with her grandparents.

Cousins Keghan McCrory-Engle, 10, and Addyson Engle, 6, died June 11 when the SUV they were riding in was involved in a wreck on Interstate 65 near Columbus.

The children and their aunt, Kathy Scroggins, 55, were returning from visiting Addyson’s mother, Trista Engle, in an Indianapolis hospital, where she had been admitted with complications with her second pregnancy.

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Traffic was stopped on the interstate because of a fatal motorcycle wreck, and the vehicle Scroggins was driving struck the back of a semitrailer. Keghan and Addyson died at the scene, and Scroggins died nine days later at an Indianapolis hospital.

Two days after the wreck, Trista Engle gave birth to a daughter, Alexis Grace, who was born at 31½ weeks and weighed 2 pounds and 10 ounces.

The establishment of Keghan’s Memorial Garden and Addyson’s Bench of Caring will provide family and friends places to go to remember the cousins who died in the wreck.

Keghan’s father, Jedadiah McCrory, said that when he heard the news about his son he had a panic attack. The first couple of weeks after that seemed like a dream, he said, and every aspect of life changed.

“He made the honor roll. He was an unbelievable athlete. Every sport he tried, he did excellent at,” McCrory said of his son. “Around the house, he was the biggest help with his little sister, and he would help with chores every day. Every day, he was just here helping and doing things. He was a really big part of everything.”

During that difficult time, McCrory said, the best thing for him was to stay busy. Creating the garden at his home in Hayden helped him do that.

He said he spent several days working from sunup to sundown, and his wife, Heather, and some family members and friends helped, too.

The main part of the garden is surrounded by an octagon-shaped open-top gazebo. The area includes a small pond, a three-tier fountain, a concrete table with an umbrella, solar lights, wind chimes, concrete statues, a concrete bench and a pillar with metal emblems with “beloved son” and “brother” on them.

Along the ground are recycled bricks from a 120-year-old building in North Vernon. Those bricks also are the base of a platform that contains a red brick pizza oven. One of Keghan’s favorite foods was pizza.

The McCrorys also plan to plant vegetables in that area that could be used for pizza toppings.

The area contains more than 50 species of perennials, and there is a winter garden with plants such as evergreens and a holly bush that will stay green in the cold months.

“We want to have stuff blooming all four seasons,” Heather McCrory said. “It will be beautiful to always have something blooming.”

Near a wooded area, there is a meditation garden surrounded by aromatic herbs. Keghan used to ride his dirt bike in the wooded area.

“We wanted to have a place of solitude, a place to escape and clear our minds and reflect on his life,” Jedadiah McCrory said. “It gives you a nice, beautiful place to go and sit and reflect.”

Some of the garden’s items were donated, and a GoFundMe account was set up online to give people a chance to donate money.

The family isn’t done with the garden. They plan to make a walkway to a fire pit and expand the current garden.

Keghan’s siblings, Cainen McCrory, 6, and Audren McCrory, 2, are helping care for the garden. Jedadiah McCrory said that allows the children to learn about the plants and flowers.

The family also came up with the idea of a community garden at Keghan’s school, nearby Hayden Elementary. They talked to Principal Brent Comer, and he was supportive.

The community garden would give people in the community free access to vegetables and fruits and teach children about how nature works, Jedadiah McCrory said.

“It’s just a matter of time until we come up with a game plan of the layout of what the garden is going to be,” he said. “Mr. Comer is completely on board. He really wants to give it a shot and see how it turns out. It’s good to have something that can draw in the community and bring everybody together from a tragedy and make something positive of it.”

The bench project was started by Sophi Foster and Jenny Kent. A Bench for Caps is a program with Green Tree Plastics in Evansville where plastic caps and lids are recycled and turned into a bench. It takes around 500 pounds of caps or lids to create an 8-foot bench.

Foster said she learned about the program a year ago when a girl she went to school with died in an accident and a bench was created in her honor.

The plans are to place one bench at Addyson’s school, Graham Creek Elementary, and two at First Marion Baptist Church in Commiskey, where the cousins were headed to attend vacation Bible school on the day of the wreck.

“My son was a good friend of Addyson’s, and I wanted to do something to help him and the other children of the school to have something to be a positive outlet for their emotions,” Foster said.

Clean caps and lids can be taken to Graham Creek Elementary School and churches and businesses in that area of Jennings County. In Jackson County, lids can be dropped off at B2 Bikes and Boards and Health Centered Spine and Wellness in Seymour and Crothersville Elementary School.

Foster said they also plan to have drop-off events in North Vernon and Seymour, but the dates have not yet been set.

Organizers already have received a lot of caps from all over the state and even from other states. Foster said she and Kent receive responses daily via Facebook or phone asking about the project.

“It has just been overwhelming, amazing and awesome,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of people reaching out and doing their part to help.”

The cap and lid collection will run through the beginning of November.

Jedadiah McCrory said that, when he heard about a bench being created in his son’s memory, it meant a lot. He said Keghan had gone to Bible school since he was 2.

“I’m glad to see that people can find a way to find some peace in such horrible times,” he said. “As long as it’s benefiting the community and helping people, it’s a good thing all the way around.”

At a glance

To make a donation to Keghan’s Memorial Garden, visit gofundme.com/xjy2fw.

To donate caps or lids for Addyson’s Bench of Caring, visit Graham Creek Elementary School or churches and businesses in that area of Jennings County. In Jackson County, caps and lids can be taken to B2 Bikes and Boards in Seymour and Crothersville Elementary School. You also can call Sophi Foster at 812-498-0787 or Jenny Kent at 812-592-0360.

Save caps or lids from medicine bottles, milk jugs, detergent bottles, hair spray bottles, toothpaste tubes, deodorant sticks, drink bottles, spray-paint cans, flip-tops (ketchup, etc.), ointment tubes, cottage cheese containers, mayonnaise jars, yogurt containers, peanut butter jars, ice cream buckets, Cool Whip tubs, coffee cans, cream cheese and butter containers and more.

Unacceptable items include metal of any kind, trigger sprayers, soap pumps, lotion pumps or fast-food drink lids.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.