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This news story originally provided by The Bristol Herald Courier
February 10, 2005

A scene of sadness


BIG STONE GAP A plastic baseball rests in the front yard of Dennis and Cindy Davidsons home.

Three-year-old Jeremy Kyle Davidson dropped it there nearly six months ago after a game of baseball with his father and big brother Zachary.

"Zachary, Jeremy and I were in the front yard hitting that plastic ball around," Dennis Davidson said. "It was close to 7:30 that evening, and we had to go in and eat. A little over six or seven hours later, Jeremy wouldnt be with us anymore."

It would be the last time he would pitch a ball to his youngest son. Just hours later as the child slept, a half-ton boulder was dislodged from a 2,000-acre strip mine high above the Inman community and the Davidson home.

It was about 2 a.m. on Aug. 20.

The rock rolled 650 feet down the hillside, burst through the walls of the house and into Jeremys bedroom. It crushed him to death.

It narrowly missed Zachary when it crashed through his bedroom.

The family left their home later that day. They will never live there again, they said.

Dennis Davidson returns to the house now and then. He drove by in September just to see it from a distance. He came back about two weeks ago. The dark and dreary day matched his mood.

"It was especially tough," he said. "That plastic baseball he was playing with is still laying there in the front yard where he left it that Thursday evening. I didnt stay but a couple of minutes. Its just strange. Its a scene of sadness. Its just sad."

Cindy Davidson lives with plenty of "what ifs" these days. She stays away from Inman.

"Two nights prior, Jeremy had a cold and a fever," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. "He did not go to sleep that night. I stayed in the living room with him until 3 a.m. that morning. I keep wondering what if that had happened on that night instead. I could still have him."

For months, the Davidsons avoided talking about the night their son died.

"Its so hard to relive it," Dennis Davidson said. "Well have to do that soon enough anyway."

The Davidsons filed a $26 million lawsuit against the companies that hold permits and mine the coal at the strip mine. The suit also names company employees. Depositions and court testimony could follow soon.

Meanwhile, a special prosecutor has been assigned to investigate whether criminal charges should be filed.

The Davidsons talked about Jeremy, a fun-loving little boy, and how he grew as he left his toddler years behind.

"He laughed all the time," his father said, a rare smile crossing his face. "He enjoyed playing with his brother."

"He loved the outside," his mother said. "He was very intelligent. He could find his way into anything he wanted."

She moved the Nintendo video game system out of his reach one day. It didnt work.

"He got a laundry basket, turned it upside down and climbed on it so he could get the video games," she said.

"He was just starting to learn everything," his father said.

Zachary, 9, tries to cope as best he can with his brothers sudden death.

"He has his good days and bad days," his mother said. "You can tell he is hurting."

The boys were close, their father said.

"There are still video games he wont play now because they used to play them together," he said.

"Movies, too," his mother said.

Dennis Davidson grew angry.

"What this boils down to is that our 9-year-old son is the victim," he said. "Jeremy is lost forever. Jeremy was his shadow. Hes lost his brother for life. He still doesnt understand. Hell say, I wish Jeremy had not been taken. Hes the real victim."

They said they have no way to understand how deeply Zachary aches.

"Its hard for him to explain it," Dennis Davidson said. "He hurts. He definitely hurts."

The community has helped with prayers and encouraging words, the Davidsons said.

"We still have people who are constantly saying they are praying for us," Dennis Davidson said. "Churches and family still keep us in their prayers. We appreciate that. It has been a big help."

kstill@bristolnews.com | (276) 679-1338

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