Thursday, April 19, 2007
Horse lover robbed of her Monday ride
At the far end of the Virginia Tech campus, some horses graze peacefully outside. A half dozen more are in their stalls in the neatly kept stables. A clipboard hangs in a far corner -- a few pages blowing in the breeze -- containing an eerie reminder of how Monday was supposed to play out here.

It is a riding schedule, and for Monday, under 3:30-4:30 p.m., there is the name Emily Hilscher, and a penciled in notation that she is to ride Ed, one of the thoroughbreds with a stall a few feet away.

Hilscher was gunned down at approximately 7:15 a.m. Monday, one of the first two victims, shot and killed near her dorm room across campus.

She was a popular member of the VT Equestrian Club, an animal sciences major who loved horses and loved to ride. The club's Web site now includes a moving tribute.

For me, it is that clipboard in the stables that provides a poignant, sad reminder of Monday's events -- how she must have been looking so forward to riding that day. A ride she was ruthlessly robbed of.

-- By John King, CNN Chief National Correspondent

Editor's note: Read about all 32 victims: In their honor
Posted By CNN: 10:02 PM ET
  8 Comments
We talked about Emily at our barn on Wednesday. It is where we all go to forget, if just for a while, the rest of the world. If she is anything like my daughter, it is her favorite place, also. Most of us watch CNN and we joke about solving world problems around the hay pile instead of the water cooler. On Wednesday, our thoughts and prayers were for VT students, and Emily. She was studying to help make the world better for animals. How could anyone cut down these people in the prime of their lives? Thanks for the story.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Chicago,Il : 10:43 PM ET
A clipboard in the stable, cell phones ringing that the will never be answered, parents that won't hear their children laugh again, it's all so sadly poignant.
Thank you for looking at this story from the perspective of the victims and their families. That is the real story, not the irrational, psychotic actions of the killer.
Posted By Anonymous Phebe Phoenix, AZ : 10:48 PM ET
Dear John King,
I lost a very close friend a few years ago to cancer. His death was long and drawn out but when the time finally came, it felt so sudden. He was only 27. We had planned to walk in the park later that day. Even now, years later, it is driving by that park that always gets me because I think “if only we could have had that one last walk.”

Your insightful characterization of what many people will remember most about those they have lost – the little day to day things that made up the lives of these precious people – is the most important part of the stories to be told. Thank you for so sensitively telling their stories.
Posted By Anonymous Cheri, Idaho Falls, ID : 10:59 PM ET
John,

You have done a tremendous job on this tragedy from your reporters notebook the first night showing the community and its people to your stories about the victims and what they liked, did, and would want to be remembered for. You have humanized a story that has to be extremely painful to tell. Thank you for your words, your reports, and your decency.
Posted By Anonymous Annie Kate, Birmingham, AL : 11:54 AM ET
Hi John,
What a darling girl Emily was. In the photo of her last night on 360, I could just see the goodness and joy her face radiated.
I could identify with Emily's love for animals, horses, and nature. She sounds a lot like my own daughter. Our children are God's most sacred blessing.
I pray that Emily's family and friends can cling to the fond memories they shared.
There is just something magical about little girls and horses. Personally, I think I may never see another darling horse and pony girl without thinking of Emily.
God's peace~
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches, TX : 12:02 PM ET
Michael,

I am glad the press cut the VA Tech administrator some slack. It has been a hellish week and we need to all show compassion to each other. This past week I have been most impressed by the genuine quality of the VA Tech students and faculty. If the school implements an e-mail or other warning system, I would have no hesitation sending a son or daughter off to such a fine institution. What happened at Va Tech could have happened anywhere. It is just Va Tech's bad luck to have Cho as a student there. God bless the Va Tech family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Posted By Anonymous Charlotte D., Stockton CA : 1:14 PM ET
Great story, this one got tears in my eyes and chills down my arms. I can relate to the horse riding and being excited about the ride. Thanks for this story!
Posted By Anonymous Alicia - North Carolina : 2:31 PM ET
When you lose someone, it's always the little, every day thngs that bring back memories and make you miss them the most. It's the every day things that are the most poignant and frequent reminders.
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 9:31 PM ET
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