Guest Columnist

A parent's worst nightmare: Losing your child to a senseless accident

We all need to do our part to stop distracted driving. I never want this to happen to anyone else.

A technology that automatically puts a phone into a restrictive
A technology that automatically puts a phone into a restrictive "driver mode" when it is within a moving vehicle. (Ken Lambert/Seattle Times/TNS)

I want so much for people, especially our young people, to stop distractions while driving. Please leave the cellphone alone, actually stop at the stop signs. Stop talking with people while in motion. Focus on your driving, so you can arrive safely to your destination.

This is a mother’s heartfelt plea to stop distractions, as the third anniversary of my son’s death from a tragic accident downtown Iowa City nears.

My son Jared was heading home that night on his motorcycle. His friends were in two cars following behind him. He had just turned the corner from Bowery to Gilbert, shifted gears, and was heading north on the inside lane.

A third vehicle with an acquaintance and his girlfriend, who was driving in the other lane, drove up close beside him, to talk to him, with no thought or intent. Jared had his helmet on and turned suddenly to see why this car was so close. The acquaintance started to talk with him which had to be difficult for Jared to hear with his helmet on. This distraction caused a hesitation in his ride.

When he accelerated, an immediate wobble occurred, like riding a bucking horse, which he tried desperately to survive. Jared rode his bike up on the sidewalk, and back to the street, in efforts to get it under control. The light was red at the intersection of Burlington and Gilbert. Somewhere between the Sanctuary and the corner, he laid his motorcycle down on the street sideways, in hopes of getting it under control, before the intersection. Jared did everything right but there was no room to recover. Jared died instantly when his wheel bumped the side of the curb. The impact caused him to hit the throttle and it threw him into the corner pole with great force. It was a chain of events that caused this horrific fatal accident.

My son’s story needs to be told to warn others how easily this happened, and within seconds, it was over. I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. This is the season for bikes, mopeds and motorcycles and if this saves one person from a serious accident then it was worth it. I want a movement for positive change. Please stop the distractions of any kind, whether you are driving or someone else is driving. Stop at stop signs, and obey the laws of the road. If you don’t, your actions can have fatal consequences. Please, please talk with your children again and again about the dangers of distractions.

No mother should ever have to open the door at midnight to three police officers to tell her that her son was killed. There is no greater pain then losing your child suddenly to a senseless accident.

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I talked with Jared many times of concerns I had of him riding his motorcycle. I told Jared there are controlled circumstances and uncontrolled circumstances. He could clearly tell me how he would handle a controlled circumstance but then I’d say, “Son, I’m not worried about those, as much as the uncontrolled circumstances, the ones you don’t see coming.” His accident was a parent’s worst nightmare. We all need to do our part to stop distractions now. I never want this to happen to anyone else.

Jared would want his mom, dad, family and friends to live their best life and to remember him with a smile.

“You have done so much good, son. We were so blessed. The impact you made on others in your 20 short years on earth was very powerful. I am so sorry this happened to you. My heart is broken, I will carry you with me, every day, until I see you again.”

Love and miss you always, Mom.

Kelly Donovan lives in Coralville and wrote this to honor Jared Edward Donovan.

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