Teen Memoriam Stories

Jaden Rathbone

"Please slow down, especially on halloween night. It’s a given there will be children running around, popping out of nowhere."

Jayden loved riding horses, fishing, camping, and baseball. He collected cars in packages, but never opened them. He loved to cook. Every year we went river rafting at Lava Hot Springs and you always found Jayden at the grill, cooking with Grandma.

Jayden also loved heavy equipment like semis, dump trucks, and tow trucks. He also had a skill for operating heavy equipment. He dreamt of going into the military when he grew up.

On Halloween night, Jayden was trick-or-treating with his dad and he wanted to go to a couple more houses. His dad worked for a tow company so they were in a tow truck that night. Jayden got out of the truck and crossed the road. A car was approaching them and the lights from the tow truck blinded the driver who hit my son.

I was out with Jayden’s siblings when I got the phone call. At first I thought it was something minor. A mother’s hope. But then they told me it was worse than that. It seemed like a year before I got to the hospital. When I arrived, they wouldn’t let me see him. They put me in a conference room.

I’ve been put in a conference room before…17 years ago I lost another son in a car crash, so I knew what it meant. The officer said they were flying Jayden to Primary Children’s Hospital. We jumped in my truck and that was the longest drive of my life.

At Primary Children’s, I ran into the emergency room and the only thing out of my mouth was, “Where is my son?”

Again they made me wait. It was horrible. When they finally let me in, I saw things that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. He was on life support with 25 different medications keeping him stable.

We prayed he would pull out of it. For a month we prayed. We’d see his hand move or his eyes flutter. It was like he was trying to pull out of it, but he couldn’t do it. His brain damage was so severe that the only function left was his breathing. After a month, we had to decide.

The community was amazing. They did prayer chains, candlelight vigils, and a walk for Jayden. A rock band, Iron Maidens, from California sent autographed posters and to this day they dedicate the last song at every concert to Jayden. The Dodgers sent him a care package in the hospital. This year, we took our annual trip to Lava Hot Springs and 30 people showed up to dedicate the first river run.

I don’t drive anymore. I’m terrified of taking away someone’s life. At 15 and 18, Jayden’s sisters don’t want to drive either. Jayden’s younger brother used to be so good at skateboarding, but hasn’t touched a skateboard since that day.

Please slow down, especially on Halloween night. It’s a given there will be children running around, popping out of nowhere. If you see a car stopped in the middle of the road, don’t go around them. You don’t know why they are stopped. Someone could be crossing the road. I see it every day. And my plea to drivers of large trucks is to please turn your lights off if you are on the side of the road.

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