Obituary: Sophie Rinehart, Indiana band student

Sophie Rinehart, 17, of Newburgh, Indiana, died in a car wreck on Interstate-69 about 100 miles from home, near mile marker 103, in the early morning hours of Sunday, November 13, along with her father, David, and grandmother Ruth Ann, the Indianapolis Star reports.


Castle H.S. band at the BOA Grand National Championships (school via Facebook)

Sophie and her sister Josie, 18, were on their way home after their high school marching band from Castle High School in her hometown had just performed in the final round of the Bands of America Grand National Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The band won third place in Class 3A, performed in the finals competition, and came in 10th.

According to band directors Tom Dean and Mark Eifler, counselors will be available at the high school beginning on Monday who specialize in helping students deal with this type of grief. Sophie’s voice played a big role in the band’s field show this year. It was reported that she would sometimes hold back in order not to go “over the top,” but her directors convinced her to put everything she had into it at the Grand Nationals.

“Please hug, cry, laugh, sing, and pray for each other today—and the next day—and every day,” the directors wrote.

As David was driving southbound on I-69 after the final Grand National trophies had been distributed, his family’s car struck a deer and pulled off the road to the outside shoulder. According to police reports, a pickup truck, which was also traveling southbound, veered off the road and struck the Rineharts’ car, killing the three family members and sending Josie to Indiana University Health hospital in Bloomington with cuts and abrasions.

The 19-year-old driver of the pickup truck suffered a fractured arm and was also transported to IU Health, but an Indiana State Police trooper arriving on the scene found debris on the road and the pickup truck inverted. The fatal accident is still under investigation.

David, 46, was the worship and music pastor at Crossroads Christian Church. Sophie’s grandmother Ruth Ann, 74, was a retired music teacher, who taught in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp.

“They are very much a family,” Mr Eifler was quoted as saying. “I know they’re devastated. She didn’t meet anybody that wasn’t immediately her friend. The kids adored her.”

I pray that, just as God heard Sophie’s voice lifted up on Saturday and throughout this championship season, we all recognize that God stands at the microphone today as students, family, and friends mourn her death. May the master Musician now take the ring of death and turn it into an eternal beam of light to shine upon her; may he take the discord of a traffic accident and turn it into eternal harmony for this Ohio River community and for fellow musicians and friends everywhere. For even death can’t stop the music. The song goes on, improvised but more beautiful nonetheless.

Final arrangements for Sophie, David, and Ruth Ann will be linked in here when available. The funerals are being handled by Alexander Funeral Home, East Chapel, in Evansville.

According to the school’s website, the district arranged for buses to take students from the middle or high school to Sophie’s funeral, which was on Thursday, November 17. Parents were advised to send notes instead of calling the school to excuse their students who would be attending the funeral, as they “simply do not have the staff to accept the large volume of calls expected on a day when many students are absent or need an early dismissal.”

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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