By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – New Albany High School football coach Ron Price bears scars on his shoulder from a home invader’s bullet. The bullet that killed his wife, Amanda, left scars that show only in his eyes and his voice.
Tears still come easily when he talks of that night. Perhaps to blunt the impact of his own words, he sometimes refers to the crime as “the accident.”
“You’re living a normal life, and in the blink of an eye it all changes. There’s nothing preparing you for this,” said Price, whose 4-year-old daughter, Molly Addison, was not physically injured in the Dec. 5, 2011, attack at their home. “Knowing the person that Amanda was and her relationship with the Lord, I know where she is … but for me and Molly Addison, it’s hard.”
The little girl is struggling to process the horrific events.
“She wants to know, ‘Why did that bad man come to my house and hurt my Mama and my Daddy?’”
The reality of the way Amanda died weighs heavily on the adults as well.
“One of the things I’m having the hardest time wrapping my mind around is that Amanda, in a home that she loved and where she felt secure, she lived the last minute of her life in horror,” said Amanda’s father, Bob Cossey. “She was shot, and she saw Ron shot before she lost consciousness.”
Price said the thought of facing his wife’s killer in a courtroom some day is daunting. Every day is a challenge to restore normalcy to the scene of tragedy.
“As we pulled into the driveway the night the accident happened, Amanda said, ‘I just love our home,’” he recalled. “It is our home, and this guy has just made even that part of our lives difficult. Our little 4-year-old loves her room and her toys and her house. I want to give her that peace, and I don’t want her to see me being fearful at our own house.”
Bob Cossey says his son-in-law is succeeding.
“He’s done an amazing job with that young lady … and in our lives,” he said.
Price and his brother-in-law, Jay Cossey, who is also a coach at New Albany High School, express not only grief, but frustration.
“As a husband, you want to protect your valuables. I feel like I failed her. I couldn’t get to her and protect her,” Price said.
“You kind of still think, I’m her big brother, and I should have been able to do something for her to prevent it,” Jay Cossey said. “You start looking at your own wife and children and are you doing the right things to provide for them and to afford them similar protections. It changes the way you think about the world around you.”
Faith and community
Price says their faith and a generous community have helped him and his extended family through their ordeal.
“New Albany is a great community, and you never expect anything of this nature in our town,” he said. “There’s been such an overwhelming response from our town; they’ve shown us love, support, care – our community has, our church family has. A tragedy like this could happen anywhere, but they have gone above and beyond to show that they love us and care about us and appreciate us. I’ve told everybody ‘thank you’ is not enough.”
“We appreciate what they’ve done in their outpouring of love and support to our family, but yet it gives us an opportunity to be witness and encouragement to other people,” said Bob Cossey, who is a chaplain at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County. “When you meet somebody, you never know what they’ve been faced with.”
Cathy Cossey, a nurse at the hospital, said she hopes people can be inspired by her daughter’s example.
“Amanda had such a big heart; she was so compassionate toward other people,” she said. “Even when she was a little child, if other kids made fun of anybody, she couldn’t stand that. She always included everybody.
“I think New Albany has exhibited that they knew the true Amanda, how caring she was,” Cathy Cossey added. “That helps me get through the hard days.”
Jay Cossey said being together as a family has made Amanda’s death more bearable.
“We’re here in New Albany because Ron and Amanda were here, and they wanted us to come,” he said. “We wanted to raise our children so that they played with their cousins across town and had that family bond. A lot of times in coaching you don’t have that very close, but it was a great opportunity to be here and to be around each other as adults.”
Despite Amanda’s death, he said, her legacy continues.
“Make good memories, love your family and trust Jesus with a lot of the details you can’t handle. That’s kind of the way she lived,” he said. “A lot about Amanda sounds like a fairy tale. She had the most dynamic outlook on life. When she was around, she made everything brighter, everything different.”
The Mississippi Coaches Association has created the Amanda Price Award to be presented annually to the woman judged the state’s Outstanding Coach’s Wife. Martha Frances Moore, whose husband, Bob, became a New Albany assistant coach in 2010, praised Amanda in her letter of support for the award.
“I will never forget the joy that this young woman exuded daily. She was always smiling and full of laughter, and she charmed everyone around her,” Moore wrote. “Daily she lived Galatians 5:22: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.’ Her life and the effect that she had on people in north Mississippi will never be forgotten.”
Bob Cossey said while he wants to see his daughter’s killer brought to justice, family members also hope for that person’s conversion.
“Amanda would want the person who took her life to know that somebody gave his life for him, and that person is Jesus Christ,” he said. “She would want the person who took her life to be saved.”