Parents talk of losing son to drunk driving PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER, Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 10:10
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Brian Hoeflinger speaks during a presentation against teen drinking. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
PERRYSBURG - In the year since their teenage son died in a drunk driving crash, Drs. Brian and Cindy Hoeflinger have done anything but try to move on.
Over and over, they've rehashed the pain that started Feb. 2, 2013, when their son Brian, 18, made some poor choices. By all accounts an enthusiastic person with a good head on his shoulders, the Hoeflingers insist their son didn't make those kinds of bad mistakes, and when he did, he learned from it.
But he didn't get a second chance.
The Ottawa Hills couple has been busy since tragedy struck, making rounds at area schools and with the elder Brian writing a book, "The Night He Died: The Harsh Reality of Teenage Drinking."
Cindy and Brian emphasized the real-life impact of binge drinking and teen alcohol use to Perrysburg students and their families Tuesday. They shared memories of their son, followed by an emotional slideshow with photos of happy times as well as the roadside scene where Brian died after his car struck a tree.
"I think that gives you an idea that there's a person behind the statistics," Brian said after the photo presentation. He went on to outline just how socially acceptable and commonplace alcohol and drug use have become to teens.
He reported that 72 percent of students have tried alcohol by the end of high school, and 37 percent by eighth grade. He said binge drinking, consuming many drinks in a short period of time, is a staggering problem, with more than 30 percent of seniors reporting at least one binge-drinking session in the last two weeks.
Brian emphasized that making the right decision isn't easy, and he wasn't above such behavior when he was young, either. After moving to a new school in ninth grade, his friends drank and used drugs, so he did too. He said his friends turned their backs when he decided he wanted out. It wasn't easy, but he made new friends.
Cindy told students that "every decision can make or break you." She encouraged them to be allies for each other, and not to forget they influence younger students, most of whom now grow up wondering not whether they'll drink, but when they will start.
While introducing the Hoeflingers, Superintendent Tom Hosler shared his own experience with the 1995 death of a student, one he mentored while coaching and serving as a teacher and assistant principal at St. John's Jesuit in Toledo.
"Today I struggle to even talk about it, still," Hosler said. "I never coached high school sports again."
A promising runner who was being recruited by top colleges, that student died after being injured in an alcohol-fueled fight at a hockey game. After being sent home from the hospital, he was found dead one-half mile from his home, wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt.
"We will never know what happened, but I do know that this chain reaction all began with his decision to use alcohol," Hosler said.
"Parents, community members, schools, legislators, churches, coaches, police, and students must act in concert. No one entity by itself has the ability to overcome this problem. It's not a school problem. It's a community problem."
For more information on the Hoeflingers' efforts, visit www.BrianMatters.com.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 10:46
 

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