Three-year-old Christopher James Hubatka was a loving boy with a wide, toothy smile and a penchant for cheese.
“He snuck into the fridge to get cheese — he loved it,” said his father, James Hubatka, 29, of Ardmore, a Marine stationed in Okinawa until he got out of the service a year ago.
“Christopher was born there,” James said. “He was a blue-eyed angel who loved to swing, slide, play in the pool and squirt people with the garden hose,” James said. “His favorite movie was ‘Cars’ and his favorite book was ‘I’m a T-Rex.’”
Christopher also liked cows.
“We would go on walks in Ardmore and stop and look at them,” James remembered.
The young father and his family are living on memories of Christopher now.
The boy died Aug. 9, two months shy of his fourth birthday. In addition to his dad, the boy leaves behind his 26-year-old mother Samantha, his 6-year-old sister Belinda, and his 10-month-old baby brother Jacob.
Beth Springer, a close family friend who loved the Hubatka children, described Christopher this way:
“He was a typical, loving, little boy who had puppy-dog eyes when you scolded him,” she said. “He was not afraid of anything. He wanted to play and run and carry on and he was as cute as he can be. You’d look at him and couldn’t help but smile. He knew when he was in trouble and he’d put himself in the corner.”
The last day
James had just returned home from work at Matsu, a car parts maker in Huntsville, about 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning when the family’s nightmare began.
“I got home from work and was dealing with his baby brother and I thought he was sleeping,” he said. “Then, I went to get him up because it was unusual for him not to be up.”
He found Christopher unresponsive and called for his wife. The couple made a frantic call to 911.
Ardmore Police Officer David Posey, who arrived first on the scene, began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Ardmore Police Chief David Whitt said.
Ambulance personnel took over when they arrived and gave Christopher CPR all the way to the hospital, Whitt said.
Despite their valiant efforts, the boy was pronounced dead at the hospital. The cause of death is listed as cardio-pulmonary arrest.
Whitt said the child, who had an upset stomach, might have aspirated. While the family grieves and awaits autopsy results so they will know for sure what happened to their son, time presses on.
Little Christopher was laid to rest Aug. 13 in Gatlin Cemetery in a light blue coffin with angels at each corner.
“It was a beautiful service,” James said.
“He was dressed in black pants and a vest and an ‘Easter green’ shirt,” Samantha said.
“There was nice music and people said nice things about him,” James said.
What is lacking for Christopher is a suitable headstone.
“We want him to have a nice headstone but it is so expensive,” James said.
The young couple is already overwhelmed by the funeral expenses, though they said Berryhill Funeral Home was very nice to them.
Like most families, we set the table for life; death is not expected.