BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The note is typical for something posted by an eighth-grade girl on social media: Lots of exclamation points, a couple smiley faces. But the post from a young lady from Mississippi discussing the death of her parents and four other people in a plane crash in Alabama is touching people with its poignancy and honesty.
Sarah Perry took to Facebook to post a message Tuesday about the deaths of her parents, Michael and Kim Perry. They were among six people killed when a small plane with engine trouble went down while the pilot tried to land Sunday at the Tuscaloosa airport. All the victims — three couples with 11 children total — were from Oxford, Mississippi.
Sarah started by thanking everyone for showing their support.
"I love you so much:)!! Every single hug and message filled my broken heart. The truth is, yes, I am heartbroken, sad, tired, and devastated, but I have to keep my faith. It has to grow stronger and stronger."
She went on to talk about the pain of her loss, saying, "it hurts to never have someone to call 'mom' or 'dad' again. And I don't know why tragic, horrible things like this happen."
She also wrote about all the loved ones she would care for the rest of her life — being her sister's "Santa Claus," helping her brother with homework or problems he has, helping her grandmother.
"It will be hard and there will be obstacles along the way, but if we all stay strong and stick together we can get through this because I know this is what my parents would want! I know for a fact I will never physically see my parents again on earth, but they will never, ever leave my heart."
The Oxford (Miss.) Eagle (http://bit.ly/2b1bWya) published the contents of the message Tuesday night after verifying its authenticity with a close family friend, and that column plus other stories about Sarah's message have since been shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media.
"I think people are just so moved that this young lady had the courage to reach out to them in effect and comfort them, to let them know she will be OK," Eagle publisher David Magee said in an interview Wednesday.
Sarah's father was a dentist in Oxford, and her mother was a nurse practitioner at the University of Mississippi health center. The crash also killed dentists Jason Farese and Lea Farese, and dentist Austin Poole and his wife, Angie Poole. The six were returning home in Farese's twin-engine airplane from a dental conference in central Florida.
The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to release a preliminary report on the crash, but Tuscaloosa police said the aircraft experienced engine trouble and attempted to land, instead crashing into trees short of the runway.
A joint "celebration of life" for all six people is planned for Saturday morning at the Ole Miss basketball coliseum. The doors will open 1 1/2 hours early.
"I expect there will be an overflow crowd," Magee said.
There's little doubt Sarah Perry will be in attendance, trying to be strong. She wrote: "so imma go out there and be my best and I will get through this:) Thank y'all for everything!"