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West Michigan Teen Dies in Crash, Father Speaks Out About Texting and Driving

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OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. (June 6, 2014) – Less than 24 hours after a West Michigan teenager died in a crash, his father spoke out about the dangers of texting and driving.

Jacob Freybler, 17, was driving south on 8th Avenue near Lincoln Street in Ottawa County when his car crossed the center line and hit an SUV head-on.

Freybler died at the scene. It’s the result, sheriff’s deputies say, of texting and driving.

“They found the cellphone in his lap,” Jim Freybler, the victim’s father said. “I was hurt because he knows better. And now, I’m really hurt.

Jim Freybler said the crash happened while his son was driving back home from visiting his girlfriend. When his son missed curfew, he said, he didn’t worry initially because that’s something that happened on occasion. But, as time went on, with each passing minute, the ordinary turned unfamiliar.

“I called him three times…he didn’t answer,” Jim Freybler said. “Lights come in the driveway and I’m like, ‘yeah you’re home…and you’re going to get in trouble.’But, it was the Ottawa County sheriff with the crisis team.”

Jacob, who was an avid fisherman and a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, aspired to become a fireman. It’s a dream that will never come true.

“I can’t….I don’t want to bury my son,” Jim Freybler said weeping. “But, I have to.”

Freybler said the thing he’ll miss most about his son is the way he would apologize when he knew he did something wrong.

“He knew how to grab into your heart and you could feel he was sorry,” Freybler said

Jacob, who was born maturely on Christmas Eve, his parents said he was fighter since day one.

“He has one kidney and he’s been a fighter all his life and that’s why got in Tae Kwon Do to help him protect himself with that. Anything he’s had to do he’s had to fight for.”

Freybler said once his kids were older he and his wife spoke to them about the dangers of texting and driving. With words only touching the surface of many people’s thoughts, they’re hoping their story will grab ahold of others and stay with them while out on the road.

“Phones are great to talk to your friends at school, to talk to your friends at a football games, or from home so mom and dad can’t be around,” Freybler said. “In the car is no place when you’re driving to be texting or on that phone. Pull over or get in the parking lot, ya know, be safe with it. Otherwise, you’re going to bury them,” Freybler said while holding a picture of his son.

A vigil will be held at the Wendy’s on Alpine Avenue where Jacob worked Thursday night at 8 p.m.

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  • Helen Waite

    Idiot never should have had a cell phone in the first place. Does anyone know (or care) about the condition of the other driver? That's where the concern should be, NOT FOR the lost life of an idiot…

  • hello

    Helen Waite and The Founding Fathers — what a horrible thing to say about a young man that lost his life. I'm sure he's not the only person that texts while driving. Why not keep your negative thoughts to yourself so his family doesn't have to read this? I'm sure they are all suffering right now so why not have a little compassion if that's possible!!!!! Have you ever heard of karma? Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this most devastating time of loss.

    • Helen Waite

      Eat me. Where's your concern for the other driver? A person simply out driving and minding their own business when this idiot SELFISHLY DECIDES to break the law and text, cause an accident and screw up some else's life. Screw you. This idiot got what he deserved. One less idiot on the road driving and texting…

      • Kevin

        I normally only say one thing but the cold hearted bitch that Helen is deserves this a child is dead yes he was wrong but he died he was 17 young and simple when it comes to life Helen Waite you sadden me life is never fair look in the mirror.

      • FU Hell-en

        I'm sure you'd like that, but no.
        Keyboard commandos like you are a dime a dozen, you're a coward and a reprobate.
        Without your keyboard you are a pimple faced little turd who sits in Mom's basement all day spanking your monkey.

  • Kevin

    I am so sorry for your loss as a parent you like to think all will be ok and simple things they will refrain from it didn't happen. I truly cry for you and your son and only hope that like I all parents will sit with there kids and explain the dangers. Nothing will bring him back but education of others may continue his memory. Once again in so sorry.

  • Jim

    Nothing on the driver and/or passengers of the SUV. Maybe they weren't killed, but if they were hit head on I can imagine that they were hurt pretty badly. Sorry about the kid. Apparently his father gave him the rules and he chose to ignore them. I guess a text is more important than life. At least he's off the street and will not be able to hurt anyone ever again.

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