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Lane Burnsed Is Laid to Rest to the Words of Job and a Community’s Grief

| August 1, 2012

Lane Burnsed as he was remembered today at Cattlemen’s Hall. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

There’s something painfully discordant, like a tocsin sound at Christmas or a defiantly black dress at a wedding, in the sight of many teenagers at the side of a grave. Not one or two or three teens gathered there, perhaps reluctantly, because a grandmother or an aged uncle, or even a parent, has died. But dozens upon dozens, among hundreds of others, gathered there more disbelieving than accepting, to mourn one of their own: like them, a teenager. It isn’t in the nature of teens to think of themselves, to be, anything but invincible. Even less so for a teen who had planned to emulate his father and become a fireman, though he had not yet had a chance to learn the fireman’s prudence. That was Lane Burnsed.

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Lane was 19 when he was killed, along with 17-year-old Meredith Smith, one of the passengers riding in his truck on I-95, last Thursday night. Services were held for Meredith Tuesday. Earlier today, in the kind of punishing heat so common in August, Lane was laid to rest at Espanola Cemetery–“wrapped in a restful slumber,” as Job would describe it–surrounded by the bulk of some 400 people who had turned up at his funeral service at Bunnell’s First Baptist Church in mid-morning.

And Lane’s parents: Jamey Burnsed and his wife Iola. Jamey is a captain with Flagler County Fire Rescue, his roots in the community running deep and broad. It is for him that the majority of people who weren’t of Lane’s generation had come, though it’s for the young that they wept most.

“I saw the faces of so many young men, like Lane,” Laura Lynn, a friend of the Burnsed family whose son Gabe was close with Lane, said this afternoon. “The camaraderie this young man formed in his few years was astounding to me. I know there were people of all ages, but all my eyes could see were the young. My heart broke for them and at the same time, I was reminded that it is in the living through circumstances such as this that we grow and learn how to live at all.

“His sweet family, sitting in the heat of the summer day, face to face with the reality of his passing, surrounded by countless lives that his death has affected in one way or another. Committing his body to the ground was a short but precious, well-spoken few minutes.” The pastor read at graveside what had been sung at the church–William Cowper’s “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.”

One of the young men at graveside was Corey Miller, a father of two toddlers, and the man with whom Lane had spent a majority of his later months.

Corey Miller shows a recent family picture with Lane he'd brought to graveside. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)“Pretty much eight months he lived with us,” Miller said. “He was at our house day in and day out. I’d pick him up on the way home from work. He was close tom my kids. He bought my daughter”–Rylie, who’s not yet 4–“all kinds of stuff for her birthday this year. The bikini he bought her, we had to peel it off of her, she wore it for, like, two days.” Miller and his wife Brittany were supposed to be riding with Lane Thursday evening, because it was Brittany’s birthday. They had to cancel. They couldn’t find a babysitter for their two children. Corey got a text message at 4:49 in the morning, telling him of the wreck. “He was a real good kid, man. A real good kid,” Miller said.

“And when my little brother passed in April, they were friends, and he was right where, helping me out through all that. He actually is the one who got him the job in Flagler Beach that he was proud to have.”

Like Lane, Anthony Rogers was 19 when, riding a motorcycle with with 17-year-old Lauren Kashtan on Matanzas Woods Parkway, he lost control, and was killed. He had been trying to right his life. Lane had been helping him through. (There’s a memorial birthday party for Anthony, who would have been 20, on Saturday, Aug. 4, at 1 p.m., near the Flagler Beach Pier.)

Lane himself had his struggles, as 19 year olds often will, as the words from a letter from Lane to his parents, that the pastor read the congregation at the church, poignantly suggested. “Things like these are hard for me to say in person. Words cannot explain the sorrow I feel sometimes about the things I’ve done in the past months,” he wrote him mom and dad. “But I want you to know that I’m trying. And it’s really hard. I know that I need your help with so many things. I pray to God to give me the strength to be open minded and follow your counsel. I love you and my brother and sisters to death. I just want you to know that I want to mend everything between us.”

He told his parents that he knew he didn’t always show the love he felt for them, but that he would keep trying. “I’m starting to see that I’m truly blessed,” he concluded. “With all my love, Lane.”

David Wooten, one of the pastors who spoke at the service, cited Isaiah (“do not fear, for I am with you), Daniel, the Lamentations (“This is what I shall tell my heart, and so recover hope…”), but also Job–not the angry, resentful Job who confronts God about all the misfortunes he’s being made to suffer and finally curses the day he was born–but the Job of the end of the story: the Job who makes his peace with providence, and who says, “I have been holding forth on matters I cannot understand, on marvels beyond me and my knowledge.” The sermon, by Pastor Keith Harwood, was based on John 11 (“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die”).

At graveside. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

There was no room inside the church. People lined the walls, in places more than a few thick. They lined the stairs going up to the upper level. They spilled out into the lobby, where several ranking officials stood–Sheriff Don Fleming, Under-sheriff David O’Brien, Bunnell Fire Chief Derek Fraser, County Administrator Craig Coffey, Bunnell City Manager Armando Martinez. Others, including large contingents of firemen and paramedics from several jurisdictions, whose trucks lined the road to the church, were inside.

The drive to Espanola is brief. But it took more than 20 minutes for the procession of cars to make it into the cemetery before the graveside service began. The mourners then were invited to Cattleman’s Hall at the county fairgrounds, where food from Woody’s and other donors had been catered in, and where a slide show of Lane’s few years projected on a large screen. The funeral and the reception had all been coordinated by Richard Bennett, one of Jamey Burnsed’s lieutenants, who’s been with Burnsed since Thursday, rallying help and support–just as Don Petito, the fire chief, had rallied support for one of his men, Mike Pius, in June, when Pius almost lost his life in a wreck in St. Augustine. Pius was there today, in a wheelchair, but his trademark smile and good humor unscathed and brightening up his surroundings.

One of the mementos Miller had brought to graveside was an arrow holding up a few final words to his friend Lane, and shooting through a Brantley Gilbert CD. One song in particular had resonated between the friends: “Bending the Rules and Breaking the Law,” and the refrain:

Yeah I was proud to be in the bad news crowd,
The one my mama warned me about,
The closest thing to hell she’s ever raised.
But when I look back on those days,
I know I’d never change a thing.
I made mistakes that paved the way for the man I am today,
We’re proud of ’em ALL y’all,
And I had a ball,
Bending the rules and breaking the law.

Variations on the story of Lazarus come in all ways.

The procession into the cemetery took about 20 minutes. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

11 Responses for “Lane Burnsed Is Laid to Rest to the Words of Job and a Community’s Grief”

  1. Cindy Welborn says:

    What a sad day!!!! Prayers go out to the family!!!

  2. PalmCoast says:

    I can not read about these young wonderful people with a dry eye!
    My heart continues to break for these families!
    Rest In Peace at the Lord’s side!
    Much love and prayers to all involved!

  3. Barb Hartman Witt says:

    My heart hurts for all of them.

  4. corey miller says:

    Thank you so much for today…. I am so proud to say that he was family to me. i just wish other kids could have had a mom and dad like his. His family is what got allot of us threw our hard times here. His momma always had a warm smile and his Dad a Strong and Stern talk of wisdom for us. I will cherish every memory i have of Lane.. will never forget the 3 stooges.. Lane me and stancil… i love you lane… to me your never gone!! your big brother..

  5. mmyers says:

    I cant describe the pain we all have felt the past few days after learning of Lanes accident. Lane was a great young man that loved God! It was truly amazing to see how many lives Lane touched in his 18 years at his funeral. I know he was friends with my boys and he was in my 4H club he was a great leader and always put 100% into everything he did. I can still hear him and my boys singing as loud as they can to rock band on the play station. Those are the memories I will keep forever in my heart.
    Till we meet again buddy we love you and miss you everyday!!

  6. terry rogers says:

    God bless everyone who was affected by this loss. My son is Anthony Rogers so I truly understand how this family feels… I’m glade Lane an my son knew each other. Anthony’s memorial is this Saturday the 4th. RIP Lane , Meredith, an my baby boy Anthony.

  7. LiLBit says:

    This was one of the hardest things i have to deal with, but lane an Meredith brought this town back together in a way.

  8. RIPSweetAngel says:

    The angels looked down from heaven one night
    They searched for miles afar,
    And deep within the distance
    They could see a shining star.

    They knew that very instant
    That the star was theirs to gain,
    So they took you up to heaven
    Forever to remain.

    Look down on us from heaven
    Keep us free from hurt and pain,
    You’ll always be within my heart
    Until we meet again.


  9. Sarah says:

    I too lost a teenage child and it was the hardest thing i’ve ever gone through. Everyday is a day that i say, will i cry or not…i usually do. It’s been 8 years and i really miss him!

  10. PalmCoast says:

    @ Sarah
    Nothing anyone could say or do will help take away the crushing pain you must feel….BUT…PLEASE know you and all that have lost children way to soon, will always stay in our hearts and prayers!
    Much love and prayers are sent your way!

  11. Doron lyn says:

    this is the hardest thing i have ever went thru in my life , there are no words that i can find to express the pain i feel for the two young lives that were lost ,i dont knw y iam still here today because i would have never choose my life over two children, i just want to pay my respects to the brunsed family and the smith family, this i the first time i been able to get out of bed so please forgive me for reaching out so late its been on my mind ever since i woke up in the hospitail and they toll me two people lost there lives

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