St. Louis, Missouri January 2013
Sarah Decareaux, her husband David and their five children, Kate 11, Dominic 10, Grant 8, Finn 4 and Elise 2, went for the weekend to the Bushy Creek Lodge on the Ozark Trail near Bear, Missouri to celebrate their 12th anniversary. Rather then joy and happiness, the trip would prove to bring horrific grief to Sarah and her family.
Around 11 a.m. on a crisp January morning, David decided to take his two oldest boys for a hike. The temperature was in the 60’s and it was sunny. Perfect weather for a hike. Dressed in fleece and sweaters the little boys excitedly followed their father to the trail that Saturday morning. When they did not return by 6 p.m., the Sheriff’s Department was alerted and a search party was assembled.
It is estimated that David and the boys reached Sutton’s Bluff, nearly eight miles away, at 2 p.m. At this point, it started to rain and the temperature began to plummet. On their return to the cabin the rain turned into a deluge. The streams became raging rivers and the temperate dropped into the 20’s.
David’s cellphone lost power and his flashlight stopped working as he tried desperately to follow the 2 foot wide trail, back to the lodge, in the torrential downpour. When he realized he was lost, he build stone mounds and left orange peels along the route he was taking in hopes that someone would find their trail.
At some point, he abandoned their trekking poles. It appears he then began to carry his two little boys, whose combined weight was nearly 100 pounds, including across a raging creek. His efforts would prove to be in vain, as his two little boys froze to death in the harsh elements.
David put the boys together on the ground, covered them with his jacket, crawled another twenty feet farther, and died himself.
Sarah was notified at 2 p.m. Sunday that she David, Dominic and Grant had all frozen to death in the woods. In her hysteria, she collapsed to the floor and begged God for a miracle. She screamed and pleaded with God to restore their lives.
Suddenly, she heard God’s answer, when He said to her, “They are not coming home with you. They are with Me now. Get up off the floor.” Accepting that this was His plan, Sarah asked God to stay with her forever and help her to cope with her profound loss. And then she got up.
It has been more than six months since the tragedy. Hundreds of people have come to her assistance, both emotionally and financially.
Sarah’s faith is stronger than its ever been. She recalls that in 2004, on their third anniversary, David had converted to Sarah’s faith. He had been a Catholic but was re-baptized in the Evangelical tradition. Their faith, as a couple, would guide them in everything they undertook. Sarah’s deep faith continues to provide her with the strength and fortitude she needs to raise her remaining three children alone.
Sarah says she routinely remembers the couples system for keeping track of their five little children when on weekend excursions. She would raise two fingers for David to see and he would return her gesture with three fingers, indicating that all five children were within view. Sarah says that their responsibilities are now reversed, as David will forever hold up just two fingers, while she will raise just three.
Today, Mrs. Decareaux continues to search for answers to tragedy, routinely consoling herself with her faith in God’s plan. She is convinced that her terrible lose has a purpose and has written in her journal many times, “Profound loss has to have a profound purpose.”
We can only pray that this brave women finds her answer.