April 8, 1995 in City

The Death Of A Child Gives Us Pause To Understand Life City Is Left Reeling When The Unthinkable Happens

By The Spokesman-Review

(Unpublished correction:) The name of Brandon Farnworth was misspelled in this story.

Five Spokane children died violently this week.

Three more were injured in fires.

The deaths and injuries are the result of four unrelated events that seem beyond our understanding.

“We ask how could this possibly happen? But we ask the very same question when a new baby is born,” said Sister Monica Ann Lucas, director of chaplaincy at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

“It’s a mystery and we’re never going to know that answer. Not in this life.”

Why did 3-year-old Brandon Farnsworth burn to death in his family’s Morgan Acres home?

Why would someone beat 2-year-old Devin Erb to death in his Browne’s Addition home?

Why did the journey of the Solodyankin family end in such tragedy?

Russian emigrants looking for a better life, Vyacheslav and Yelena Solodyankin and their eight children moved to Spokane recently. While visiting relatives in Bellingham, a house fire killed the parents and three of their children: Valeria, 14; Vycheslav, 6, and Alina, 1.

Two other Solodyankin children were injured in the fire.

A 7-year-old East Central girl who accidentally ignited her clothes Monday is in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

This is spring, the week before Easter - a time when we celebrate youth, joy, renewal.

For a handful of Spokane families, it’s a season of grief.

All parents know their own children are bundles of promise, storehouses of potential. They grow fast and change quickly. They someday will achieve great things - an education, a career, a family.

Someday, most of them will give something back to the people who raised them.

But we never realize how valuable all children are in our community, said Stephanie Kline of the Children’s Home Society of Washington.

“I wonder why that is? I wonder why we never think about how important children are, not just to their parents, but to all of us.”

For people who knew these five children, the sorrow and heartbreak is fresh and raw. It will be the job of pastors, counselors, teachers, friends and family to offer comfort in days ahead.

The rest of us may hug our babies a little tighter when we put them to bed. We may pause a little longer when we watch the neighborhood children play.

“The death of a child is unfathomable, but it’s part of living,” Lucas said. “How we go out, what age we go out, is not ours to determine.”

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