The four years I spent in FFA always will be a huge part of my life. From the first time I zipped up my corduroy jacket, I became a member of a lifelong brotherhood.

Whenever a tragedy strikes, no matter whether they are current members or alumni, the organization mourns the loss.

Sadly, the Indiana FFA recently suffered a shocking loss when a horrific traffic accident claimed the lives of three members of the South Ripley chapter and injured three more.

Before the accident occurred, the youth had been working together serving breakfast at a church to farmers and ag leaders who were attending a soil and water conservation meeting.

The day the wreck happened, I saw pictures on the news and online. Police said speed was a factor, along with both trucks running a stop sign.

After seeing the damage to both of the vehicles, I couldn’t believe that any of the students made it out alive. The bed of one of the pickup trucks came off completely, along with the rest of the truck being crushed.

My heart goes out to the families of all the students involved in the accident and the members of the FFA chapter.

Although the students did leave the breakfast early — why isn’t clear — and speed appears to have been a big factor, it’s important to remember that these were good students and members of the community that apparently made a bad decision that cost three of them dearly and will forever change the lives of the others.

Those not involved in FFA or the agriculture industry may be quick to pass judgment on the students involved in the accident, believing if they had not left the event or missed school in the first place that the accident wouldn’t have happened.

But from my days in FFA and all of my siblings also participating in the organization, I know there are a lot of activities, contests and meetings that take place outside of school hours that because of limited transportation required us to drive ourselves or have our parents drive us if we were not old enough.

That was the case for the members of the South Ripley FFA. They had to be at the church where they were serving breakfast at 5:30 a.m.

FFA is a brotherhood, and the bonds and the memories that one builds will last forever, which includes serving breakfast early in the morning, not getting home until 10:30 p.m. because your chapter just won first in a contest and giving up your weekends to attend leadership camps with your teammates.

As the days, weeks and months eventually pass and this accident fades from the headlines, I hope that other FFA members remember they are not invincible and anything can happen in just a matter of moments. Cherish each moment now.