TOLEDO, Ohio (WJW)– “To the graduating class of June 2013, our son Brian Hoeflinger died in a tragic car accident at the young age of 18.”
It’s a warning letter from Brian and Cindy Hoeflinger, of Toledo, as more young people will soon face the hard choices their son made on Feb. 2, 2013.
“It also shows you how easily stuff like this can happen. Here’s Brian. He goes to a party with a bunch of kids in the basement and they’re drinking they all brought their own liquor. Parents are in the house. They had a designated driver that was supposed to be the designated driver,” Dr. Brian Hoeflinger said.
“But somehow Brian ended up driving. Through a chain of events, he gets drunk, there is other commotion going on that was focused. But Brian grabbed his keys and someone tried to stop him and he ran up and got in his car locked his door and the designated driver ran out and tried to stop him and couldn’t.”
They said they think Brian was trying to get to a friend’s house just a a little further down the road.
It was a cold February night. There was no snow, and the road was relatively clear. Police said Brian may have been speeding when he lost control and slammed his Pontiac G-6 into large tree.
“I get a phone call from one of the kids’ moms who turned out he was supposed to be the designated driver that night and she says, ‘Cindy, there’s been an accident.’ And there’s something weird where you know that something’s wrong,” said Dr. Cindy Hoeflinger.
Brian’s dad is a neurosurgeon and was on call that night at two hospitals. He started calling to find his son.
“So I called Toledo Hospital, that’s the major hospital. And they wouldn’t tell me anything. They just said, ‘You and your wife need to come to the hospital. Don’t get into an accident. You need to come to the hospital.” And I think at that time, that’s when I knew that Brian was probably dead,” Dr. Brian Hoeflinger said.
Brian had just turned 18 a month and a half earlier. He had a bright future ahead of him. An honors student, Brian was accepted in at the University of North Carolina and had plans to be an orthodontist.
He transferred to Ottawa Hills High School from Catholic school so he could be with his neighborhood friends and be a part of the school’s top-ranked golf team.
Brian was popular and well liked by his friends and classmates from both of his schools, and everybody said he was just a really good dude.
“We tell you this story because Brian could be any one of you, if you choose to drink. And we say choose because it’s your choice and nobody else’s because once you take your first drink of alcohol, you’re not making decisions, the alcohol is,” said his mother as she read from a letter to other parents and teens.
It’s something that has troubled his parents every day since. That’s why every year at the time when there are proms and graduations, they post their letter of love on Facebook, Twitter or directly talk to people where every they can reach them. It’s an effort to help them understand that Brian’s story doesn’t have to happen to anyone else.
“I wish somebody would have talked to us and said, ‘You should talk, touch base with your kids once in a while about what’s going on,” Brian’s father said.
“We didn’t think he was doing anything really wrong because he was such a good kid very. We were naïve just like all the other 99% who don’t think their kids are doing anything,” his mom said. “I think Brian would be very proud that he was making a difference by the message that we’re spreading.”
The Hoeflingers were instrumental in getting the store where Brian and his friends bought the liquor closed because of they sold to minors.
Brian’s dad wrote a book about the pain they felt over their son’s death that’s available on Amazon.