The Duncan Banner

August 20, 2013

Family tells the world ‘It makes no sense’

Toni Hopper
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — A good looking Australian athlete and a fresh-faced southern Oklahoma girl shared a first look four years ago and they instantly clicked. Their connection became a love story.

And now their love story is an International story.

But this love story doesn’t have a happy ending.

Christopher Lane, just a couple weeks shy of his 23rd birthday, was out for a jog Friday while his girlfriend, Sarah Harper, was finishing her shift at the Duncan Golf & Tennis  Club pro shop. Lane was jogging down Country Club Road when he was shot and killed in a random senseless act of violence.

Even more shocking — it was in broad daylight and in a neighborhood where crime doesn’t happen. Three teenagers are being held in the Stephens County Jail and formal charges of first degree murder are expected to be issued today in district court.

Two communities are reeling, trying to make sense of what has happened.

Two families and many friends are grieving and remembering the many good moments they had with Lane.

“Every minute with him was amazing and I cannot pick just one or even a few,” Sarah shared with The Banner on Monday. “Every moment was new and exciting.”

Sarah and Chris met at Redlands College in El Reno, in 2009. It was a start of the year party, she said. He was here on a scholarship to play baseball. Coach Matt Newgent had recruited him from Melbourne, Australia.

“It just clicked. Ever since the fall of freshman year we have been together,” she said.

Both young, attractive and athletic, the pair had much to “click” about.

Sarah describes Chris as the most generous and gracious person she has ever known, noting that he would drop everything for someone else’s needs.  

“He loved his family and friends more than anything in the world. If you could hand pick qualities for a perfect person he would be the final product.”

Sarah wrote to Chris on Facebook, pouring out her heart. It was a love letter that has captured the attention of people worldwide.

“I love you so much babe. From 2009 until forever you will always be mine and in a very special and protected place in my heart.”

Her Facebook posts provide an outlet for her grief as she struggles to cope with Lane’s death. The couple had returned Wednesday from spending most of the summer in Australia, spent two days recuperating from jet lag, and then were ready to get back into daily activities. They only had a few days before returning to school. Chris was set to go to East Central University in Ada, Monday, for his senior year.

Sarah was returning to Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond.

On Sunday night, Sarah and family members walked the two miles from her home to where Chris was shot. A roadside memorial had already been erected.

They placed an Australian flag and a baseball on it that Sarah had added more words of love. As they were walking home, several police cruisers and an ambulance drove by fast in response to another shooting in a nearby neighborhood. The shooting was a domestic-related incident, and non-fatal for the victim. Sarah later posted on her Facebook that she immediately started talking to God.

“So much tragedy in our small community. Lord, heal us all,” she wrote.

Lane’s parents, Peter and Donna, shared their thoughts in a media conference at Essendon Baseball Club in Melbourne. Their son had been a member at the club prior to coming to the United States.

His father told reporters, “He had a good life ... why it was taken away is so pointless.”

When asked how the family was doing, Peter said, “You just have to gather together as a family and hold on, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Sarah said, “He was perfect beyond measure and he will be greatly missed.”

Bryan Lane, uncle to Chris, reached out from across the borders to share with The Banner this: “I’ve been reading about Duncan since this tragedy occurred and I know a little more about who the town is. From the perspective gained I know there are people there, those who knew Chris and those who didn’t, who are as stunned and saddened by this event as we are. It makes no sense to any sane person.”

Many people, in both Australia and America, share the same feelings — that Chris Lane’s death was a tragedy.