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Parents’ emotional presentation to prevent teen drunk driving deaths

13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Three months ago, Drs. Brian and Cindy Hoeflinger would never have imagined they would stand on the stage at the Ottawa Hills High School auditorium and talk about the dangers of teenagers drinking and driving.  But three months ago, their son was still alive.

Just past midnight on a cold February morning, 18-year-old Brian Hoeflinger, in his mother’s words, “made a bad decision … He made a choice to drink.  And once he took that first drink, it’s the alcohol making the decision.”

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His car crashed into a tree not far from their home.  He died while his parents slept.  The coroner later discovered he was legally drunk.

“Part of me died.  Part of her died and you can’t ever get it back.  It’s gone forever,” his father said.

They buried their son.  They grieved.  Then they channeled their pain into purpose.   Brian’s father set up a website and established a memorial fund to raise money for charities and causes that were important to Brian.  In three short months, the fund has raised $70,000 with more expected after a June 1st golf tournament called “Birdies for Brian.”

And they created a presentation to try to save another family from their pain.  It’s an hour long talk that includes a gripping video that brought the Ottawa Hills audience to tears tonight.  The video shows happy pictures of Brian over the years; playing on the beach, posing with family on vacation and golfing.   It then cuts to stark, silent pictures of bottles of vodka.  And suddenly, police crash scene photos of Brian’s mangled car.  The audience then gasps and sobs at the next photo:  Brian in his casket.

It ends with the Hoeflingers asking the kids to sign a pledge not to drink and drive.

“There isn’t a second of any day that we don’t think of him and we each cry individually and on our own at different times,” Brian’s father said.  “If we can save one family from going through this, then it’s worth it.”

To find out more about Brian Hoeflinger’s memorial fund visit brianmatters.com