A Yachats Commons full of friends gave a tearful goodbye to a boy they described as a survivor of an upbringing fraught with family tragedy and challenges that would have flattened other boys – but Sam Mullane kept moving forward and pleased many, and earned the respect of many, of all age brackets and walks of life. Teenagers to the elderly packed the Commons to share and to listen to life stories and memories from those who knew “Sambergini” as his friends called him.
They described Sam as a young boy having to take on some of life’s raw elements despite his young years. Yet, they say, he sought to be a significant member of the Yachats community, helping other disadvantaged youth like himself and offering friendship of a depth and commitment that belied his young years.
Sam helped design and build the Peace Garden behind the Commons.
Sam’s death was anything but peaceful. He was at his home 12 miles up Ten Mile Road Thursday night, May 31st, when something awful happened. Because there were two wanted men inside his home, Oregon State Police SWAT members approached the house, carrying a search warrant and arrest warrants for the two men, Matthew Hubeny and Justin Wood. The two Yachats residents were wanted for the severe beating of another Yachats man earlier in the month. State Police have released little information about what happened right outside the home before Mullane was fatally wounded by members of the SWAT Team. A release stated only that Mullane appeared on the front porch, armed with a rifle. Moments later Mullane was gravely wounded and died. The OSP release said only that an investigation has been initiated to chronicle the events leading up to the use of deadly force. OSP did not indicate how long it may take to issue more information on the case.
But Friday night’s gathering at the Yachats Commons didn’t involve much talk about the circumstances of Sam’s death. They focused on their feelings for an 18 year old youth that had left such a mark on the town, someone who could be called a diamond in the rough who perhaps allowed the “wrong crowd” into his home. Many childhood stories were given by young people, stories from a teacher who worked with Sam in school; next door neighbors who fondly remember how much they enjoyed Sam and how they loved him…his sweet caring ways and his vigilance at protecting his younger brother Garth who now lives with family in Portland. A firefighter told the crowd that he had been helping Sam gather parts so that he could fix a neighbor’s decorative windmill.
It was a tough night for Yachats. It was tough because so many seem to be feeling that the town may not have given enough of what Sam needed most. Love and encouragement. They knew he was a survivor with special strengths and forces of character that helped him overcome his stressful childhood. One speaker urged everyone in the room that “If you know a young person who is having a difficult time, offer sincere and heartfelt encouragement and praise. Give both freely and with love! Never pass up the opportunity to do that.”
The townspeople walked outside and headed down a rainy path to the Peace Garden behind the Commons. There they lit candles and further shared their life experiences with Sam and how hard it is to accept that he’s gone forever.