Tragedy Beyond The Imagination

Michael Pohle with friend Greg Gecik on the Virginia Tech campus at a memorial to the shooting victims. His 23-year-old son Mike Jr. was killed in his German class.
Michael Pohle with friend Greg Gecik on the Virginia Tech campus at a memorial to the shooting victims. His 23-year-old son Mike Jr. was killed in his German class. (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)
By Tamara Jones
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 17 There was a trivia game Mike Pohle and his fiancee, Marcy Crevonis, liked to play called Imaginiff, where they took turns posing silly questions: Imagine if you were a circus performer, what would you be? Imagine if you were a car, a color, a movie. They had their own version of the game, too, where they imagined the life they planned to spend together. Mike already had named the five children they would have.

He was 23 when he was killed in his Monday morning German class at Virginia Tech.

She is 19, left trying to imagine a life without him.

Michael Stephen Pohle Jr. was due to graduate with a degree in biochemistry in just three weeks, worrying about finding the right job and staying close to Marcy, a freshman who graduated from Langley High in McLean and met him at a mutual friend's party last fall. They argued over their favorite sports teams, and were inseparable from then on. She gave him a Phillies jersey last Christmas, and he slept in it every night. Yesterday she went back to his apartment and put it on, inhaling the lost scent of him as she lay on his empty bed and wept.

"We were the same person. We shared the same thoughts. We finished each other's sentences," she says, standing on the emerald green Drillfield, where they often met between classes, and where state troopers now order Marcy and Mike's grieving family to move back, move back, move back because President Bush is about to arrive to pay respects at the makeshift VT shrine to 31 students and faculty members murdered in Monday's rampage.

Marcy remembers waking up in Mike's arms that morning. "He's a big guy, so it's hard for me to sleep with my head on his chest, but I did Sunday night, and I heard his heart beating."

Go back to sleep, he told her, you don't have to get up.

But they always walked each other to class, so Marcy sleepily got dressed and joined him on the way to his 9:05 Intro to German class in Room 207 of Norris Hall. They had time to stop at Marcy's dorm first -- she needed her book for Russian in an hour -- but a police officer at the door of West Ambler Johnston Hall turned her away. The dorm was locked down, he said without explanation. Marcy thought nothing of it. "People were always pulling the fire alarm, and there had been the bomb threats."

Mike urged her to go back to his apartment. She remembers that it was 9:02. The last time she would ever speak with him.

"We were the same person. We shared the same thoughts," Mike Pohle's fiancee Marcy Crevonis says.(Family Photo)
Marcy headed back to the dorm, determined to get her book. She slipped in unchallenged through a side door, and went up to her room. People in the hallway were talking about a shooting or someone being hurt on the fourth floor. Marcy sent Mike a text message saying something seemed to be going on.

Where are you? Lock your door. I don't want you roaming. Be safe, keep me updated, he replied. He was always protective that way. Marcy felt invincible with Mike beside her. "He could bench-press like 400 pounds," she boasts.

Marcy was watching something stupid on TV, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," she thinks, when a news bulletin broke in reporting a gunman on the loose at Virginia Tech. A girl returning to the dorm from class said police cars were everywhere, that something was going on across campus. "I was panicked," Marcy recalls. She tried to call Mike, but he didn't answer. She messaged him: Call me asap.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company