Austin’s Choice

The Haley family are quite possibly the most amazing people I have ever met.  They have an unshakable faith and have survived an unthinkable tragedy.  I would say almost anyone who watches news anywhere around the country heard about what happened to their son.  The story of two police officers in Noble accidentally shooting and killing Austin Haley made headlines around the country.  Yes it was an accident, but a judge agreed that there was gross negligence involved when they chose to pull a gun and shoot at a snake stuck in a birdhouse.  I can’t imagine the horror they live with knowing that stray bullet hit and killed a little boy.

From the time we first met the Haley’s they were very open and honest about their emotions and what they were going through.  Sometimes I hate the part of my job that requires us to seek out grieving families and ask them to talk about the worst day of their lives.  But every time I talked with Jack or Renee Haley I left feeling emotionally uplifted.  It’s something about the grace they carried themselves with that was absolutely inspiring.  During the trial, plea hearings and sentencing I admired how they were able to sit in a courtroom face-to-face with the men who killed their son.  Accident or not, I don’t know if I could have done that.  Yet even with their grief, they were able to forgive the men who took their son away from them.

Nine months after Austin’s death, it was my honor to report on the next chapter in their lives…the birth of a new baby boy.  While no new child could ever replace Austin, the circumstance around the new child’s birth are extraordinary.  How the night before Austin died he prayed for his mother to have another child, and he prayed that he would be the one to pick out that child.  Add to that the memories of Austin’s brother who saw him get shot and can describe in detail what happened next.  I am a man of faith, but I don’t know how anyone can hear him describe seeing Austin go up to Heaven without getting goosebumps.  The faith of a child is a remarkable thing.

The Haley family reminds me there is still good in the world.


One Reply to “Austin’s Choice”

  1. Phil,

    Yes, Austin Haley was our dear and precious son who we miss on a daily basis. He’s gone from our lives for a while, but I try to remain focused on the future. Heaven will be a marvelous place with people and things I can’t wait to see, but most of all I can’t until Austin is meeting me at Heaven’s open gates, wrapping his arms around my legs, and saying, “Welcome home, Mama!” Oh, that will be a wonderful day.

    For now, we occupy ourselves with our son, Dalton (age five) and Gabriel (age 2 in May). They are wonderful and precious boys who make our lives wonderful.

    Jack and I have a written a book entitled, “The Austin Haley Story”. You will find the link to purchase the book on a memorial website for austin:

    Thank you for the on-going thoughts and prayers each and every day.

    Renee Haley
    Mother of Austin Haley

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