One died a hero. One died an addict.

Wednesday, less than a week before Christmas, saw two tragic stories in Laurel — one of unyielding love for someone who couldn’t help themselves and the other an unyielding love for the pipe. 

Isaiah Pierce died a hero when the house in which he lived with Marshauna Brownlow and four children went up in flames. Three of the children got out safely — a baby remained inside. That is when Isaiah Pierce did what heroes do — he went in when the natural inclination is to get out. He acted with selflessness trying to save a young life.

And he paid the ultimate price. Pierce died along with Mahogany Brownlow in that blaze, but he will be remembered for his act of heroism. We see it almost every day from first-responders and police who go in when others would run the other way. We honor all of them and stand in awe of their sacrifices. It makes it that much tougher during this time of year, when people come together in faith, family, love and unity.

And then we hear of the story of two grown adults — grown enough to know better — in an SUV stopped in the intersection of Meridian Avenue and Jarvis Street at about 7:30 Wednesday night. The car was still running, although not moving when police arrived. The two grown adults sat inside that SUV, both unresponsive. Drug paraphernalia — needles and drugs — were present. The woman, who police did not identify other than to say she was from a county other than Jones, was dead. The man appeared dead, but after being taken from the truck, he woke up and was taken to South Central Regional Medical Center.

Police suspect that it likely was heroin and possibly laced with something that proved deadly, as if heroin on its own is not deadly. Talk to narcotics officers and they will tell you that heroin is one of the worst drugs because of its terribly addictive qualities. Addicts just cannot get enough. 

The human mind, though, is more powerful than any drug. Any addiction can be overcome, but it is a choice. It is a choice every addict has to make. It was a choice those two in the car refused to make.

Now there are several families facing a Christmas they couldn’t have dreamed of because of choices — one a hero’s choice and one a coward’s choice. One a hero… one an addict.

So sad on so many fronts.

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