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Still thinking -- and praying -- about Cowboys big and small

I keep thinking about the stroller tire.

Saturday afternoon, I walked from Boone Pickens Stadium to the corner of Hall of Fame and Main. The second half of the football game between Oklahoma State and Kansas had just started, so the streets were relatively quiet. A few folks tailgating around the stadium.

But less than a block from the stadium, I was pretty much by myself. It stayed that way until I neared Hall of Fame and Main.

That, of course, is where a horrific tragedy struck the OSU homecoming parade Saturday morning. A car slammed into a crowd of people, killing four and injuring dozens of others. The names of the four have become known to all in the past few days.

Marvin and Bonnie Stone.

Nikita Nakal.

Nash Lucas.

But Saturday afternoon as I approached the accident scene, the names weren't known but the catastrophe was obvious. Everyone knew it was bad. I knew it was bad. But it began to hit home when I saw the crime tape stretched for what seemed like blocks around the scene. The long yellow plastic strips billowed and danced, and the sheer size of the space that the crime tape blocked off was dramatic.

It showed just how massive the size of the scene was, just how far the carnage had extended.

More than six hours after the accident, though, the scene was being cleaned up. People wearing neon yellow vests and bright blue gloves were everywhere. All of them had garbage bags in their hands, and they were picking up debris. Glass. Plastic. Metal. Whatever lay around.

But by the time I arrived, they had already picked up the biggest of the items. A pile had been made in the street near the southwest corner of the intersection. It was hard to tell what all was in it. Some of those cloth pop-out chairs. Clothes. Tarps.

Right there sticking out of the top of the pile, though, was a plastic stroller wheel.

I guess it could've been a wheel to something else, but once you've pushed a stroller around for a while, you come to know what those wheels look like. And there's no doubt in my mind that was one.

It broke my heart.

It still does.

Parades are places for kids. Loud music. Bright colors. Yummy candy. Those are hallmarks of every parade, and what kid doesn't gravitate toward such things?

I can't help but wonder if the stroller in that pile belonged to little Nash. That picture of his little smiling face has been everywhere. Since he's a year younger than my daughter, I imagine all of the things that he was doing. Asking lots of questions. Exploring his world. Saying "I love you." 

I know I'm not writing here about sports, and most of you expect that from me. But I keep thinking about that stroller tire.

I keep praying for everyone who's lives changed forever in that intersection.

Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›