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Father gives pointed message

Mon., June 11, 2007

Wayne Jones was determined Sunday that his son’s life and untimely death make a difference.

Through tears, anger and occasionally laughter, Jones urged teens gathered at the site of a fatal Saturday morning car crash to not make the same mistake that killed his son, Braydon Jones.

“What happened to him could happen to any of you. You don’t even have to drink. You just have to be with someone who drinks,” said Jones as people softly sobbed. “If any of you are with someone drinking, I beg you, don’t get in the car.”

Fifteen-year-old Braydon Jones died Saturday after the vehicle he and seven other teenagers were riding in crashed on Rutter Avenue, just west of Fancher Road, near Felts Field. He was finishing his sophomore year at West Valley High School.

Details about the crash are sketchy, but according to Spokane police the teen driver was believed to have been drinking when he lost control of the 1998 Toyota 4Runner and it overturned. The teen, whose identity was being withheld by authorities, was booked into juvenile detention on vehicular assault charges and may be charged with vehicular homicide.

One other passenger was seriously injured.

It didn’t have to happen, said Jones.

In April the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Spokane Valley Fire held a mock DUI crash at West Valley High School.

Jones wished the message had sunk in.

Alcohol also was a factor in an April crash blocks away that killed a 14-year-old boy.

That has to stop, said Jones.

“It’s easy to walk away today and next Friday say, ‘It’s time to get drunk,’ ” he told the crowd. “Stop.”

Jones described his son as “brilliant” with a genius IQ and a memory that enabled him to recall only a week or so ago one time he played miniature golf at the age of 2 1/2.

Jones also said Braydon was a “pleaser” who liked to help people and make them laugh. Braydon would pull practical jokes and buy snacks for friends who couldn’t afford them, said his father.

Braydon also played soccer and baseball and enjoyed attending Seattle Mariners games.

A steady stream of Braydon’s friends visited the crash site to leave flowers, balloons and messages. Most found out about the wreck from bulletins posted on the social networking Web site MySpace.

“I just thought it was a joke, a complete joke, but it was real,” said friend Ashley Burrill, also a student at West Valley High School.

“It’s just so hard to talk about,” said Burrill through tears. “He loved to make everybody laugh and bust a gut in class.”


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