The Duncan Banner

Local News

August 26, 2013

Melbourne baseball community pays respects to Lane

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — —  The parents and girlfriend of slain Australian baseball player Chris Lane shared a minute's silence at home plate of his former ballpark in suburban Melbourne on Sunday as the city's tight-knit baseball community gathered to offer their support and show their respect at a memorial game in his honor.

An estimated 2,000 former teammates, opponents and their families met at the Essendon Bombers home ground to comfort each other and try and make sense of how the enthusiastic boy they watched grow into a man was murdered last week.

Lane, a 22-year-old student at East Central University, was shot in the back and killed last week as he was jogging in an affluent neighborhood in Duncan, in south-central Oklahoma. Three teenagers have been charged with murder.

By Sunday, a fund set up to help his parents had already amassed more than $150,000.

"We really appreciate the support from both here and in the States," said Chris Lane's father, Peter. "We've had sensational support for our kids from family, extended family, from various communities we've been involved with and we're thankful for that."

Players from Essendon and Melbourne University, wearing black armbands, observed a minute's silence and stood for the U.S. and Australian national anthems before releasing balloons bearing Chris Lane's playing number 40.

Peter Lane said while no serious discussions had been held as to how to spend the money donated to Chris's fund, he'd like to see it used to help other young Australians pursue their sporting futures at U.S. universities.

"I would love something set up that helped kids follow the same path," he said. "As tragic as Chris's end was, he was on a very good life path. He made very good choices and decisions about his future. So that's really pie in the sky stuff, but I'd like to see other kids with the same opportunities Chris had. Maybe if we could make that easier, that's something we could do."

Chris Lane's girlfriend Sarah Harper, accompanied by her parents and brother, arrived in Melbourne with Lane's body on Saturday.

While Harper declined to speak publicly Sunday, Peter Lane said it was important for her and her family to be in Australia.

"It's important for (Sarah) to be here now because we will hang together and we will hang tough. But she's an outstanding kid," he said. "She was doing all the hard yards (in the United States). And for her to be here, it's a chance for her to relax and be comfortable with some people, and she's got some hard things ahead of her when she goes home."

Chris Lane's mother Donna said it was a "tough gig" standing at home plate before the game Sunday.

"It was tough standing on that field where he loved. At the ground where I spent hours in the car park," she said. "Tough, but how lucky when I looked up and all these friends of Chris's and ours were there.

"All of this support and outpouring of love is helping. It's really, really helping."

Gary Bitmead, one of Lane's first baseball coaches at Essendon, said Chris Lane was remembered fondly by everyone at the club.

"Chris was into all sports — footy, cricket — and he saw us running around down here one Friday night and conned his dad into bringing him back, and he fell in love with the sport of baseball," Bitmead said.

"He was a lovely kid, really nice nature. Good with other kids and adults, easy to get along with and as he got more into baseball he had this great work ethic," he added. "You'd have to drag him off the field at the end of training."

Oklahoma prosecutors say the three teens chose Lane as their victim at random. Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and James Francis Edwards, Jr., 15, of Duncan, have been charged as adults with first-degree murder. Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, of Duncan, was charged with using a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and with accessory to first-degree murder. He is considered a youthful offender but will be tried in adult court.

On Saturday, Australia's former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer blamed the gun culture in the United States for the shooting and condemned America's lax firearm controls as a corruptive influence around the world.

Peter Lane refused to be drawn on the subject.

"I've said at the start we're not buying into gun control, punishment, race issues. Our kid died in horrible circumstances and that's not going to be solved by me sitting here making statements about the American political system or anything like that," he said. "He met fantastic people in Duncan who as far as I'm concerned are representative of people in the U.S."

Peter Lane said Chris would have been amused by many of the tributes paid to him since his death, especially his description as a baseball star.

"He didn't take himself seriously," he said. "He would have loved 'star' because it's the last thing he would have seen himself as.

"What he would have been surprised about was that while so many people have said nice things about him as a baseballer and a sportsman, they've also said nice things about him as a person."

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 4-24 Velma Team Roping Kids.jpg Velma teens win roping competition

    Two Velma teenagers have claimed victory again this year in a statewide roping competition.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-24 DonRidley.jpg Marlow residents reflect on council member Ridley

    A void remains on the Marlow City Council following the death of Councilman Don Ridley.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Velma storm siren problem fixed

    A glitch with the storm sirens in Velma has been fixed, but just to be sure a weekly test run of the tornado warning system will sound off at noon Friday, Mayor Shawn Enloe said.

    April 24, 2014

  • Marlow Chamber sets banquet for Monday

    The Marlow Chamber of Commerce will focus on the town’s local businesses when it host its annual banquet Monday at First Baptist Church in Marlow.

    April 24, 2014

  • Council votes for cheaper, quicker water fix

    The Duncan City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to go with a $650,000 fix to its water infrastructure needs.
    The council approved a $43,000 contract with Crafton, Tull, Sparks and Associates to build a 1,000-foot long pipeline that will be capable of putting about 3 million gallons of water per day into Lake Humphreys.

    April 23, 2014

  • 4-23 DHS Band 0042.jpg DHS band wins fifth straight Sweepstakes

    The Duncan High School band received a rare distinction, winning Sweepstakes for the fifth consecutive year.
    Senior Cody Plumley is excited the band won Sweepstakes for its fifth year in a row, making the DHS Band one of the few school bands to do so.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do the crime, you’ll face a bigger fine

    It just got considerably more expensive to be cruel to animals, ride a bike at night without a light, drive over a fire hose and noodle in a city lake.
    The Duncan City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to increase the amount of municipal fines and bonds associated with dozens of misdemeanor offenses.

    April 23, 2014

  • Sheriffs: State backing out on prisoner promises

    State efforts to save time and money by shuffling prisoners more swiftly through the system are riling local sheriffs who are losing money because of the efficiency program.
    A change in Department of Corrections practice is landing a “significant hit” on two-thirds of Oklahoma counties, which depend on reimbursements to house state inmates locally, said Ken McNair, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association.

    April 23, 2014

  • McKinney: DOC move will benefit Stephens County jail

    Oklahoma Department of Corrections efforts to move county inmates to DOC prisons has helped the Stephens County Jail dip below capacity.
    But Sheriff Wayne McKinney wonders why it took so long to happen when the county jail was overcrowded for several years.

    April 23, 2014

  • Officer urges volunteers to sign up for mentoring program

    A new in-school mentoring program trying to recruit volunteers got a boost on Tuesday night when Duncan Police Officer Julio Alvarez stepped onto a stage to tell a crowd of 50 spectators that a mentor helped him overcome the trauma of childhood victimization.
    “Go out and spread the word,” Alvarez said, urging people to sign up as mentors through a program that is being developed by The Well Outreach, Inc.

    April 23, 2014