Written by Teresa Breen – JB’s mom
My son, John Breen – JB as we called him, thought he was invincible.
He was 23, a United States Marine and he was about ready to deploy to Afghanistan. He was willing to sacrifice his life for our country. It wasn’t war that took JB from us. It wasn’t a bullet or a bomb. It was a text message sent on a little 2” x 4” box that ended his life on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
JB spent March 15, 2009 with his family in St. Francisville, IL, before deploying to Afghanistan. That night, while driving, JB was texting with a friend. He lost control of his vehicle and veered off the road. He was ejected from the vehicle and died from a massive skull fracture.
JB left behind parents, a brother, and countless friends who all miss him terribly. But what hurts most, JB has a beautiful two-year-old little girl who will never fully understand what an amazing man her daddy was.
JB knew better. In fact, not 24 hours before his crash his father warned him to “Put that phone down – it’s controlling your life.” Yet, he still chose to text while driving. And he/we paid the ultimate price. No parent should have to go through the pain that we went through and continue to go through each and every day.
Now when I see people driving while using their phones or texting I get so angry. I would just like to pull them over and tell them about JB – and how what happened to JB can happen to them too. Cell phone use while driving is an epidemic. Until enough people demand change we are all in danger.
I have emailed Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood several times about this matter and spoke with him at the 2011 Distracted Driving Summit. I also have spoken to several Illinois Congressmen about this deadly issue. As a parent who has already experienced loss, legislation cannot come soon enough. Something has to be done and quickly! How many more people have to die? How many more families have to suffer needlessly?
I now dedicate my time to sharing JB’s story with people of all ages. I share what has happened to us and how it can be prevented. I have made T-shirts and wristbands that we wear almost everyday.
Anytime a call comes in while I am driving it goes right to my voice mail. Text messages go unread and unanswered. My voice mail message clearly states that I am either on another call or driving and that I will respond as soon as I pull over. NO TEXT IS WORTH IT – NO TEXT!
JB’s last text: yeah t
Take a look at the last text message you sent or received. Is that what you want people to remember you by? Is that message worth more than your life or someone else’s life? I assure you my granddaughter wouldn’t think so.