26 Oct Bronze statue of departed child unveiled before family

A bronze, life-size statue of Austin Haley was unveiled outside his family’s home Monday, on what would have been his 10th birthday.

Austin was killed accidentally by a stray bullet Aug. 3, 2007, when a noble police officer was trying to shoot at a snake in a tree. The 5 1/2-year-old boy was fishing with his grandfather at a nearby pond when the tragedy happened.

“The bronze statue is of his likeness when he was 5 years old and it is amazingly close,” said Jack Haley, Austin’s father. “The other thought is, I can’t believe what a gracious gift it is that somebody would do this for us. It’s amazing to think about that.”

A friend that Haley wouldn’t identify — pending the person’s permission — commissioned the bronze sculpture that Haley said actually was completed two years ago.

Haley said he and wife, Renee, both said they wanted the large bronze statue placed in a public space where people can see and reflect upon it in an uplifting way.

“We wanted something positive to come out of it,” he said.

That hasn’t happened yet, so the work of art was unveiled outside the family’s home on Etowah Road, about 40 feet from the street, until it can be moved to a suitable, agreed-upon public place.

Bronze sculptor John Gooden of Kingfisher created the custom sculpture of Austin sitting with a book in his hands while he looks up toward the sky.

Jack Haley said Gooden started by making a clay rendering of a little boy who was Austin’s best friend and was about the same size.

From there the sculptor worked from numerous pictures of Austin to create what Haley called a “perfect likeness.”

The bronze sculpture is on a granite stone base that was donated by Martin Marietta Materials of Mill Creek, Oklahoma.

“The statue is done in his likeness and it’s his size and we miss him like crazy,” Jack Haley said. “We’ll see it every day and wonder how big our boy would have been and how handsome.

“It’s hard to lose a child as it is, but we take it a day at a time and just try to keep everything in a positive perspective.”

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