The Death of My Son Ryan

Debbie Linkletter

My 14 year old son awake and ready himself for school one morning like so many other days before. This day will be forever carved deep with my heart. He was hitching a ride to school with his cousin who lived down the road because his older brother Matt, who he usually rode with had spent the night at a friend's house in town. Ryan was up and out the door in a flash as his cousin drove into the driveway. I pulled him back in with a hug, kiss, have a good day, and see you tonight. I give him his football sweat shirt also for the morning air was chilly that day. That would be the last time my son walked through my door. I received a phone call from my husband about a half hour after Ryan had left. He said that there had been an accident, and he wanted me to come to a place called twelve corners. I asked if Ryan was all right and he said yes, but to get in the car and meet him there. I dressed and put my young son Sam who was three at the time into his car seat. As I pasted the elementary school I see you sister-in-law running out of the building. She worked there. I drove quite calmly to the accident scene. I was met by my husband a ways back from the car. I asked where Ryan was and his reply was that he had seen him and he was on his way to the hospital. He said that Ryan was unconscious. I asked how my niece and he plainly stated that Audra and Tonya her best friend were dead. The air would no longer go through my lungs. I could not breathe. I began to panic and wanted to get to my son. It was hitting me just how bad my situation actually was. The drive to the hospital took forever. I had to keep the window rolled down be catch my breath. The local hospital was only 5 miles away but the road way long. When we arrived at the hospital I see a couple nurses that I knew. They had children in my son's class. I asked them how is Ryan and all they said was that they didn't know. I thought I heard him cry out to me and I wanted to get to him. There was also another parent there who's son was in the car. A doctor come out and told him that Mark was not going to make it. I asked if he wanted to sit with him. As this parent left, a doctor approached us. He wanted our permission to do surgery on our son. He suspected that Ryan had inhaled vomit into his lungs and wanted to check him out internally. He said to us, "Your son may not make it." My reply was then you can't do surgery. I thought that surgery would kill my son. What the doctor meant was that Ryan's eyes were not responding and one side of his body was not responding either. We gave our permission and we were left in a small waiting room, to wait. We call the high school and told them of the accident, and also told them not to let our 17 old son Matt leave. We tried to get hold of our older son who was a freshman in college, but couldn't reach him. As we waited for bad news filter in . There had also been another boy in the car who had died at the scene. The father who was sitting with his son came back to the waiting room and his child had just died too. I panicked. and cried that Ryan was going to die too. They all were going to die. The doctor returned and said that internally my child looked great, but he wanted to do a CAT scan. The waiting game had begun again and his time it was forever. Then the doctor came back the news was bad. He said that my son was 99% brain dead. He told us that they were not equipped to run certain test and wanted our permission to send Ryan to a larger Medical center. We agree. I wanted to see my son. I was allowed in to see him. He looked great. He had a little dirt on his face and a little blood on his nose and that was it. They told us he had a broken pelvis from wearing his seat belt. He was hooked up to life support, and was very cold to the touch. I asked for blankets to warm him up. I also wanted to wash his face for him. I talked to him all morning assuring him that I wouldn't leave and not to be frightened. I combed glass from his hair with my finger. When he finally was transported I rode with him but had to sit in the front. There were three medical attendants working on him. When we arrived at the medical center we were introduced to the surgeon who would be taking care of our son. We were settled into a waiting room and a lady from the organ donation come to talk with us. We didn't want to here what she had to say. We were making every attempt to save our child's life. Our attempt proved to be hopeless. At 8:30pm my child was pronounced Brain Dead. My life will never be the same. I will never be the same mother to my surviving children or the same wife to my husband. When my child was torn away from me part of me died right along beside him. I try to hopeful but it's very difficult. Five Teens Died was the headline in the newspapers. Three 17 year olds. One 15 year old, and a 14 year old who was my son. They were hit by a State dump truck on their way to school. They were hit on their side of the road. The accident was so avoidable. It is suspected that the driver of the truck panicked, jammed on his brakes, and lost control. Every aspect of my life has been altered. there is no escaping this thing called grief. This is my life now.

Debbie Linkletter

You can send email to Debbie at: [email protected]
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anniversary date 09-14-94
date of post 02-24-98

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW