Your opinion: Readers reflect on search efforts

(Editor’s note: As Monroe County pulled together to help the family of Leah Carter this past week as they searched for six days, social media exploded with posts concerning the search. We felt it very important to document and share those with our readers. )

I may not have been born and raised in Gamaliel, but I am proud to call it my home. These past few days I have seen such an outpouring of love and selflessness in the search efforts.  A friend posted this, and I can’t help but share.  This is hanging in the Gamaliel Volunteer Fire Department, where the command center is located in the search for Leah Carter.   It warms my heart to know our Lord is in the center of this recovery mission, a prayer is said before departing each day.

Jennifer Rushing


Thank you so much to everyone who donated anything or volunteered over this last week.  There are no words to say that truly articulate the amazement we saw this week.  I was honored to help.  I didn’t know Leah or her family, but I know she was loved by so many.  So many people worked tirelessly for 16, 18, or even 20 hours some days working the search.  I said it yesterday to those there but it’s worth saying again.  We all saw the 2000+ people out searching on foot, water, or sky but what most people didn’t see was the team of 20+ people behind the scenes handling the logistics of the search.  I saw firsthand these men and women working all night long or leaving only to rest a couple of hours and returning.  Examining every piece of the map, the weather, the logistics!  I am proud to be from Monroe County!

Emily Stinson

A lot can be said about Monroe, I have heard a lot of people make remarks, say they will be glad to move away, and even heard people from other counties make remarks. But I have to say after the last few heartbreaking days, it has to be said you should be proud of this little town. Yes, we are known for are great famous barbecue and our famous Dovies. The thing I love most is the fact when a tragedy happens we are family whether you know that person or dislike them, when it comes down to it you are family.  My heart is breaking for the Leah Carter Family, but I am also glad to know that my hometown can pull together in the most worst time in someone’s life and be there for them. I am also glad that we have neighboring counties who have the hearts to come and help when needed. Thanks to all, it makes a person even more proud to say, “Yes, I am from Monroe County Ky.”
Joshua and
Mary Williams

To my little town: There are days when I wish I could run away from here and have no reason to look back. and then there are weeks and trying times like this one — that I thank God each and every day to be a part of this little place. We are such a small place in this huge world. but this week we made an impact and left a mark in it. We brought a family the closure they deserve and needed. We showed those that followed this trying time… that maybe this ol’ world ain’t so bad after all. Maybe there is still hope for humanity. I pray that we stick together, and we keep comforting the family. Even down the road, I hope we continue to come together when needed. So, Leah, I hope that you’re proud your from Monroe County, and that you’re smiling; because you deserve nothing less, and this was all for you. …So, with a heavy but grateful heart, I love my little Monroe County. Next time you think of us and discredit us. I hope you realize the love and value we truly have as a community.
Rest Easy Leah, I hope you’re enjoying your time. You will be missed dearly.
Zoe Moore

As an employee at one of Gamaliel’s businesses I am in total humble at the love and closeness that this community has put forth towards this tragedy. It’s not very often that when something like this happens will anyone would stop their lives in order to help someone else’s. Even though I am not a resident of Monroe County (Gamaliel) I am truly proud of the love that each of them has for their fellow neighbor whether they know them or not. Yes, Leah will be truly missed in the community and her family but it’s good to know that there is people still out there in the world that do care and are willing to help one another no matter what the cost. God bless each and every one and God please bring peace and understanding to the family.
Denise Hale

Until Wednesday of last week, I had never been to Monroe County. The three days I spent there taught me everything I need to know. Absolutely heartwarming how this community and many other communities came together for this search effort. From the food, supplies, and assets that they pulled together was truly inspiring and just shows that there are still a lot of good people in this world. Glad the family can now lay this young lady to rest because of the efforts by this community
Josh Wilson
Kentucky State Police

So much on my mind tonight. This has been an extremely emotional week for so many people. My heart is broken, along with so many others, not only from Monroe County, but from so many other places as well. It simply amazes me at how many people came together this week to work together to find Leah. And as we all go on with our daily lives, please continue to keep her family, friends, church family, all those who helped in any way to search for her, and her classmates from the Class of 2017 in your prayers.
I have said it before and I will say it again. I have lived here since the day I was born, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. When one of us hurts, we all hurt. Our community always pulls together to help and be there for each other, no matter what the need may be. That has never been more evident than it has in the past six days. The love and compassion is overwhelming and I am so proud to say Monroe County is my home!
Kathy Ford

These people, my people are relentless.  So many people, so many hours.  Overwhelming love and compassion.  Many sleepless nights and personal family time unselfishly sacrificed.  Some may not even know Leah.  Others come to Gamaliel for the very first time just to help. And why do they do this?  Because they are awesome, God loving and God-fearing people.  Others conduct a beautiful candlelight vigil service attended by those who love Leah and her family.  The songs that were sang, the words that were spoken and the prayers that were offered up were comforting and encouraging…
Mary Peden


It is such a great blessing to live in Gamaliel Kentucky. This is a small photo of the sea of candlelight at the prayer vigil for Leah Carter who is still missing after the flood in Monroe County on Monday night going around Facebook. We don’t give up hope and we ask you to pray for the family and friends and everyone involved in the search. And we want to say how grateful we are to have such wonderful neighbors and friends who came out to lift up the family in prayer tonight. God bless and be with each of you.
Randy Davis

Don’t just hug your loved ones after a tragedy – do it because it’s a random Tuesday.  Always tell them you love them, even when you’re mad – it might not come out as sweet as usual, but you still mean it.  Pray every day, not just when tragedy strikes.
Often times WE (I’m pointing more at myself than anyone) WE wait to do these things till something bad has happened around us.   What if it happens to us and we haven’t said that I love you, not given that hug or haven’t taken a moment to pray and just thank the Good Lord for what you have (because even when we think we have nothing, we have more than someone else out there).
I don’t like resolutions but I’m making one this year: pray often, share love and give hugs.
Angie Brown

“Gamaliel” is a Hebrew word meaning “God’s reward” or “the Lord is my reward.”  It is a strange name for a town and impossible for outsiders to pronounce but our forefathers saw this was a Godly community and they chose this to be its name.
Some 184 years later this is still a Godly community, pulling together and praying like never before for a common cause, finding Leah Carter.
Chad Comer

Like so many of you, I have all kinds of emotions and thoughts in my head. But I also keep thinking that maybe the rest of the world could learn some things from us “podunk, uneducated, barefoot, toothless, Kentucky hillbillies!” If all the world could be so lucky as to have as much love and appreciation for each other. I can’t imagine that anybody has a better support system than we do right here. Thank you all for what you do for each other. Continue praying for our community.
Nelson Goad

I know the power of prayer and the power of our little community. I had to drive by the fire department yesterday morning and I lost it. The amount of vehicles from different places and just the sheer number of people in our little town was overwhelming. But seeing the SAR group bowing their heads in prayer, that’s something that you won’t see everywhere…
Terin Coe

Say what you will about small communities, but if you live in Monroe County and find yourself in trouble, people will come to help you, look for you, feed/clothe you, pray for you, and anything else that you might need. Thoughts and prayers for this sweet girl, her family, and for those in our community…
Ellen Marie Fox

…I know that the effort and devotion of community officials, responders, and volunteers searching has been unlike anything I have ever witnessed or been a part of. Relentless. Persistent. Thorough. Aggressive. Unyielding. Fierce.
I know that the amount of aid that we have received from all over Kentucky and even out of state has been a bring-you-to-your-knees kind of humbling. Absolutely beautiful to see.
I know that there are so many people, who haven’t slept hardly at all in the past few days, who wouldn’t dream of walking away from this search, no matter how exhausted they are. It’s a selflessness that inspires me.
Finally, I know that I have never been so grateful to be a part of this county. It brings tears to my eyes every single time I think about what a tragedy the last few days have been and continue to be. Yet, amidst all the tragedy and heartache everyone is feeling, there is so much warmth and love and unity. That’s such a special thing.
Gabrielle Hagan

As Dora and I were on my way home tonight I was thinking about all the support for the little place that I grew up in this is one of the biggest outpouring of people that my eyes have ever seen. I was at the fire hall, where a lot of us would hang out at it back in the days. It was over ran with food drinks and members of fire departments from all over came in every day asking, “Where do I need to go?” and “How can I help? What can we do?” It made me proud to call that little hole in the wall place that no one from there can pronounce right, and it’s just a place that some say time left behind, but to me it’s the place that where I’m from an so proud to say I’m from Gamaliel. It has tugged at my heart all weekend …
Michael Crowe

I love our little town. I can’t imagine living anywhere else for many reasons. While my heart is breaking, with no way to understand why such things happen, I will forever be grateful for the hundreds of people from so many places who have donated their time, equipment and supplies to search for Leah.  I am also amazed at the amount of food, beverages and supplies that have been prepared and donated. The teams and everyone involved have been very appreciative of everything that has been done….
Kerrie Burgess

I’m not sure what to say that hasn’t already been said, but I guess I’ll just say it again. I love this little town. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. As we set out to search this morning, the feeling of seeing the number of people volunteering to search was just overwhelming amazing…..“God heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalms 147:3
Chelsea Welch

We serve a mighty GOD and today we saw His works. Hundreds of volunteers from all aspects of life, stopping to come together for the family of Leah Carter. All a part of GOD’s plan. We have closure. Please continue to pray for her family, her friends, and all involved as this has touched the hearts of so many.
Tony Strong

(Editor’s note: As we collected posts surrounding the accident and subsequent search for Leah Carter, her first cousin — Ashton Wallace — posted this heart-felt segment, which we received permission to reprint here.)

Around this time last Monday, December 31st, 2018, I along with the rest of the world, entered the night of the impending New Year, planning to rejoice and celebrate all that the coming hours would bring.
I was so certain 2019 would bring such new beginnings, new opportunities and new hope for not only me, but our entire family.
Little did I know just what “new” those next few hours, days and the days to come would have in store for our beloved baby girl, our family, our friends, our community and our entire world as we have known it.
At 7:32 p.m., my world stood still and continued to stand still, when I received the call from my Mom and Sister with the news that Leah had been swept away by flash flood waters and was missing. To my friends that were with me in that moment and the hours to come, thank you. I’m eternally grateful and thankful.
The final hours of 2018 and days thus far of 2019 have undoubtedly brought forth “new” and changed the trajectory of our family forevermore. I walked into 2019 a completely different person than that of who I was in 2018.
In our family’s darkest hours, God has also shown us light. A light that I’ve never seen shine so bright and am still so amazed by the amount of support, love and involvement of so many individuals, both known and unknown to our family.
To the Gamaliel VFD, Monroe Co. Sheriff’s Office, KSP, multiple KY County Swift Water Rescue and Dive Teams, multiple other KY-TN-IN-OH VFD’s and units, K-9 Units, Air Rescue and Support Teams, EMS from all over our beloved Bluegrass and so many other State EMS, Equestrian Search and Rescue Teams, current and retired Military personnel, to the overwhelming and awe-inspiring 2,000 civilian and certified search and rescue volunteers, and especially Gamaliel and Monroe County community my sincerest “thank you.”
The courage, heart, generosity, love and support combined with your efforts, time, organization, planning, and execution by your command team down to each individual volunteer was nothing short of a distinguished empowerment to the true testimony of love.
Our family is eternally grateful and hope for the opportunity to one day personally “thank you” and express our gratitude. The love and support we have been shown is also the love that always has been and always will be Leah Elizabeth Carter.
My Aunt and our family have pledged to continue to show Leah’s love and compassion for service and care for others through the Gamaliel VFD: Leah Carter Search and Rescue Fund.
To our baby girl, Leah, we vow your light of genuine, unconditional love for others will continue to shine forever more.
Unknowing to me then, you had already changed my life and our family’s lives for the better; when 19 years ago, on Jan. 22nd, 1999, you — Leah — our precious baby girl were born and came into our world. While Uncle Mark, Aunt Dinah, Andrea and I are not ready for what the coming days bring without you here; forever know you will always be in our hearts and thought of each and every day. We miss you so much and we weren’t and still aren’t ready to let you go. Please know how special you were to us our precious baby girl. Our “Rwr-Rwr”.
We love you so very much and you’ll always be a part of us here on Earth, until we see you and Pa again.
Forever your big cousin,


Leah Carter (center) is shown with her first cousins Ashton (left) and Andrea.

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