Family of student killed in Virginia Tech shooting reflects on 10-year anniversary

Posted at 5:30 AM, Apr 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-16 10:42:06-04

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Terror on the campus of Virginia Tech erupted nearly 10 years ago when 32 students and staff members were shot and killed by Sueng-Hui Cho.

Sunday, April 16 will mark the milestone anniversary. For the McCain family of Hampton, the devastation from that day is personal. Their daughter Lauren McCain died in the shooting.

Lauren's father says he remembers hearing about the shooting, but wasn't too concerned about his daughter's safety at first.

The building where the shooting occurred was an engineering building and Lauren was an International Studies major. However, after hearing that Lauren's German class was in Norris Hall during the time of the shooting, he and his wife left their Hampton home and drove straight to campus, not knowing at the time that Lauren was one of the students killed.

"One of the things that my wife had prayed for was that if one of our children were to die, that they wouldn't suffer and they wouldn't hurt and it would be quick," recalled Dave. "She [Lauren] was shot twice in the neck and died instantly."

Dave says knowing that Lauren didn't suffer helped him deal with her loss. After talking to one of her classmates, who survived the shooting, he learned something else that has helped him cope.

"Right before the guy came into the room, someone had cracked a joke and they were all laughing," explained Dave. "So she was laughing, she would have looked away and would have never seen it. She wasn't scared and she didn't suffer. She is laughing here on the Earth and then she is in eternity with her lord. That is a good way."

Despite the family's positive outlook, Dave says the anniversary of Lauren's death is always tough. Now they use their pain as a way to help others.

"We are going to have 32 kids, every year, get a full ride to college. That is the goal," said Dave. "We are going to make something good out of a bad day."

Dave is an active member of the organization, Hogs 4 Hokies. The motorcycle group raises money throughout the year to work towards their goal of endowing 32 scholarships for future students, in honor of the ones killed on campus.

"It is going to provide 32 scholarships for as long as Virginia Tech exists. Once they are endowed they are done its forever," said Dave.

In addition to fundraising, the group organizes a yearly ride back to campus, where hundreds of bikers from across the state ride into Virginia Tech together. Dave helps organize the riders from Hampton.

"We have had almost 300 bikes one year," explained Dave. "Last year with all the terrible weather we still pulled 100 bikes."

While the organization and ride is meant to honor those who lost their lives, Dave says the work that comes with the ride has also helped him cope.

"When you ride you have to concentrate on that and you have to shut everything else off. It would give my head time to process what was going on," he said.

It has taken years for the family to work through losing Lauren, but for them, the tragedy isn't the way Lauren died, its that they can't see her anymore.

"It doesn't hurt necessarily anymore. There is just a longing to see her again."

A longing Dave has experienced before, while deployed with the Navy.

"You're just gone from each other for a while, but you know you are going to see them again. You know that you are going to pull into the home port and they are going to be on the pier waiting for you," shared Dave.

More information about the organization Hogs 4 Hokies can be found here.

The Tidewater Chapter of Virginia Tech Alumi Association will be honoring the 32 students and staff members killed in the Virginia Tech shooting on Sunday, April 16.

A monument will be dedicated during a ceremony at the VT Hampton Roads Center.