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Three Daughters Lost

I have had a difficult time trying to decide what title to give this post. This is not one of my “normal” posts. Not by a long shot.

A fellow criminal defense attorney, a woman I consider to be a very close and dear friend, lost her three youngest daughters this weekend.

Brenda Hook’s world was shattered this weekend when she went from having a household noisy with children to a household devoid of them.

I have never had children. So I cannot actually understand the loss of even one child. I can nevertheless feel the deep pain and anguish of a mother — my friend — crying and wailing “my babies! my babies!” Even though I have no frame of reference for this level of pain, it wants to render me in pieces. How much more painful must it be to be Brenda. Three beautiful, vibrant, well-liked, energetic bundles of life gone in a moment, without even a decent chance to say goodbye.

Brenda will never see her babies again. Not even to bid them “goodbye.” Even if there were caskets, they would of necessity be closed.

The tears of those who attended the candlelight vigil at the home will eventually dry. With time, the help of her faith, her husband and her friends, Brenda’s may, too.

I’m sure that at the moment, Brenda considers this a sadder fact of life: she— Brenda — must somehow go on. And that brings me to do something I’ve never done before. I’ve certainly never done it — nor ever expected to do it — on this blog.

If, having heard Brenda’s story, you are willing to assist her with the massive expenses that her loss entails, I encourage you to continue reading. Amy Guerra sent out the following email, which contains details on how all of us can help Brenda and Patrick, her husband.

As you may know on Friday, May 22nd, a very good friend, classmate and coworker of ours suffered the unfathomable loss of her three youngest daughters, who were killed when their small Cessna plane crashed just ½ mile from the Fallon Airport. Their father was the pilot. Those that know Brenda, and even those that didn’t, have been asking how they can help. There are several ways.

There are two trust funds set up in the girls’ name to assist Brenda with funeral expenses, travel expenses (to Fallon), etc.

Ciummo & Associates (Brenda’s employer) set up the “Hook Children Memorial Fund” set at the Central Valley Community Bank in Madera. The other one was set up by the family at Central Valley Community Bank and is called the “Brenda C. Hook Memorial Fund.”

There are two branches here in Fresno:

Central Valley Community Bank
Main Branch
600 Pollasky Avenue
Clovis, CA 93612
Phone: (559) 323-3480

Central Valley Community Bank
Herndon & Fowler Branch
1795 Herndon Avenue #101
Clovis, CA 93611
Phone: (559) 323-2200

Some friends and I have put together a website to honor her children.

One of Brenda and her family’s greatest needs right now is support.Please visit the website to leave messages for her, to post memories of the girls (for those of you who knew them), to view pictures and to light a candle. At some time, the notes and messages on the website will be made into a keepsake book for the girl’s family.

Please forward this message if you are able… we hope to have plenty of comments to substantiate a large book.

The Memorial Website:

A link to one of the many news stories covering the girls’ tragic accident:,2933,521499,00.html

Finally, let me say a few words about Patrick.

Right now much of the attention has been focused on Brenda. And that’s completely understandable as she is a mother who has suffered a terrible loss. Patrick, too, has suffered a loss. Patrick frequently cared for the girls, helping them to get ready for school as well as helping Brenda get off to her work as an attorney. And, at night, when Brenda frequently had to put in long hours in the office after a long day in court, Patrick helped gather everyone together and got everyone fed. As Amy Guerra, another great friend of family noted,

I saw the way those girls treated him — they loved him as much as any person can love another person.

And in all the commotion, Patrick has not only had the unenviable task of trying to console his wife, but of orchestrating the comings and goings of extended family and other people in and out, reporters coming and going, well-wishers, frequent telephonic inquiries, etc., thus shielding Brenda and helping to give her time and space to grieve.

In all this, Patrick has had to put his own feelings on hold for now.

Patrick, when things calm down enough, you and I are going to sit together in my backyard, throw back a beer or two…or however many we feel the need for. And there, when everyone else has been taken care of and has spent at least a good portion of their grief, we, hidden by the trees and mistaken for cats caught in a lawn mower — we’re going to wail our hearts out and flood the lawn with our own tears.