Teen Memoriam Stories

Joseph Barela

“Don’t drive tired, let someone else drive, or just park no matter where you’re at so you wake up safe.”

On March 19, 2010, Joseph “JoJo” Barela was driving to a friend’s house when he missed the turn on 12th Street due to lack of sleep. The car went through three people’s yards, hit a parked truck and then hit head-on into a very large tree.  JoJo passed instantly. The car also started on fire, burning his cell phone and leaving no way to contact me.

JoJo was getting his life together. He had just received his G.E.D. and was attending the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College for welding and culinary arts, getting several certifications along the way. He was a very hard worker and did a good job at Hersey’s. He was always there to help his family. At 19, he didn’t even get a chance to start life yet. Two days before the crash he said he was going to change his life and get everything in order. He was off to a way good start.

JoJo was the middle boy out of three brothers who were his life. He enjoyed being with his friends, they were all very close. JoJo got along with everyone. He was like sunshine when he walked into the room, always happy, bringing a smile to your face and making your day.

I will never forget the morning I woke up, and Joseph wasn’t home yet. I called everyone and everywhere. The police said there was an accident, but, after calling the hospitals and still not finding him, I was just leaving to try and find the crash myself when two policemen pulled up to tell me I just lost my son in a car crash. They asked me if I would identify my son’s clothes and, after a short pause, said, “If it helps any, he passed away instantly.” I felt like someone hit me with a ton of bricks, dropping me to my knees and just knowing after I got back up nothing was ever going to bring my son back. He was gone! Just 24 hours earlier, I was ironing those same clothes that I was describing. When I asked to see my son, they said he was truly gone and already at a mortuary in Salt Lake. It was the most devastating day of my life…

Planning your child’s funeral is devastating. It was the hardest thing our whole family ever had to do. We, as parents, never think our children will go before us. It was an eye opener; life’s too short. It’s been a year already since JoJo passed, and it still hasn’t got any easier—the pain felt by family and friends. JoJo touched us all in so many ways. Every day is a new challenge, and we just take it day by day. Still, a lot of those days are hard ones with plenty of tears. They will never go away, and our love will not fade ’til we are together again, JoJo…

If there’s one message we could pass to others, it is always drive safe. Don’t drive tired, let someone else drive or just park no matter where you’re at so you wake up safe.  Cherish every moment……

We love you and miss you always, JoJo.

Your Family and Friends

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