Redeeming the Unimaginable
On March 1, 2021, Peyton Troutt was taking orders at Chick-fil-A when his phone rang. His mom was crying. Clearly something was wrong.
Peyton’s older sister, Madelynn, just 17, had been in a bad wreck on Dixie Highway in Louisville. She’d been hit by a motorist later charged with driving under the influence while going the wrong way in a stolen truck.
While Peyton waited outside the restaurant for a ride to the hospital, he texted friends and Student Ministry leaders at Southeast’s Southwest Campus asking them to pray for his family.
In those first moments, it was difficult for Peyton to believe what had happened. Besides being brother and sister, he and Madelynn were extremely close, always connecting with one another by the end of the day, and her future seemed bright. A senior at Louisville’s Butler High School, where she was a cheerleader and student leader, Madelynn planned to study nursing at Bellarmine University.
“She brought a smile to everyone around,” Peyton said. “She was my best friend.”
A second call confirmed the worst. Madelynn had died of her injuries.
Almost two years later, Peyton can remember only pieces from that time, but he doesn’t have any trouble recalling the faces of those who came to the hospital. Among them were teacher and mentor Jonathan Joseph, who was the first person to invite Peyton to church, and Michala Riggle, the Student Ministry Leader at the Southwest Campus.
“When something like this happens, you can turn from or toward Jesus,” Peyton said. “I chose to lean into Jesus. I don’t hate God for what happened. I don’t put it on Him. I know Madelynn is in a better place than I am.”
Before the accident, faith was an in-and-out thing for Peyton. Now, it’s a high priority, laced throughout his crazy, busy schedule.
Peyton is among the top high school bowlers in Kentucky, placing eighth at last season’s state bowling championships. He also pitches for Butler’s baseball team and is on its debate team, and is president of the Beta Club and a leader with both the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Student Ministry at the Southwest Campus. The latter has grown since he began bringing his friends.
Peyton also has encouraged his family to go to church.
“When Madelynn passed, I thought it would be good to get my family involved in church,” he said. “Now, a lot of them go every week.”
Peyton said that while they are doing better, everyone in his family—including him—still has grief-filled days.
“At this point in time, I believe the guy who hit Madelynn needs to be in jail the rest of his life,” he said. “I’ve not reached a point to forgive him.”
According to a police toxicology report, the driver who hit Madelynn had a high level of amphetamines and benzodiazepines in his system. He’d just been bailed out of jail.
There’s now a cross by the side of the road with Madelynn’s picture. The Troutts painted their home’s walls and shutters yellow, Madelynn’s favorite color. They also created a memorial scholarship in her name.
Peyton plans to go into youth ministry.
“Peyton shows a lot of Kingdom potential,” Michala said. “With what’s happened, he could have leaned in or jumped out. Peyton chose to lean into his community. He’s grown immensely. He’s an example for a lot of other students and middle school boys. He’s a natural leader and already an effective Kingdom worker.”