locally owned since 1854

Parents who lost young son when distracted driver killed him share experiences with MAHS students

By David Barr davidbarr@pressandjournal.com
Posted 5/17/17

With prom season underway and graduation and the conclusion of another school year approaching, this time of year can be filled with hope and optimism for students and other young people and …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Parents who lost young son when distracted driver killed him share experiences with MAHS students

Posted

With prom season underway and graduation and the conclusion of another school year approaching, this time of year can be filled with hope and optimism for students and other young people and their families.

Mark and Karen Brezitski are aiming to make sure it stays that way for those out on the roads.

The Brezitskis were given the unenviable task of burying their son Owen, 8, in March 2011 after he was struck and killed by a distracted and speeding motorist while in a crosswalk outside Bishop McDevitt High School. In honor of Owen’s life, the Brezitskis travel around the Harrisburg area to share with drivers, young and old, Owen’s life and legacy, and the importance of staying focused behind the wheel.

That’s what they did with Middletown Area High School students Monday morning.

“We don’t want your parents to go through the same thing,” Mark Brezitski said to the crowd. “For us, it hits too close to home.”

Karen Brezitski described the family’s events during that day, from the morning when she picked Owen up after choir practice until the tragic incident that evening. She said Owen kept saying how this was “the best day ever” after a number of positive events occurred for him that day and after a concert event at the school, the family was in the crosswalk preparing to go for a treat when Owen was hit.

“We share the story in the hopes that somebody in the audience will change their behavior,” Karen said.

In addition to the talks given to the community, the Brezitskis started a foundation called Orange 4 Owen, which according to the foundation’s website, promotes “pedestrian, driver, traffic, and childhood safety and all aspects of community safety as well as raise awareness of the consequences of distracted driving practices.”

So far the foundation’s accomplishments include purchasing and installing solar LED crosswalk lights at the high school, participating in the Lower Paxton National Night Out for Public Safety in the years 2012-2015, and participating in the first Distracted Driving Challenge at Adventure Sports in September 2013.

Starting in 2014, they also issued a pledge to drivers to drive distraction-free that people can sign and return to the foundation.

Since its inception, more than 5,000 people have signed the pledge.

Middletown student Anastasia Johanessen came forward after the assembly to speak with the Brezitski family, because she can relate to what they are still enduring.

She lost her boyfriend after a hit-and-run accident last year, and she understands that feeling of loss and the feeling of anger towards the situation.

She called the family “heroes” because they are “doing something I’m not capable of” in honoring a loved one’s memory. She said she hopes that if the Brezitski family and others continue to tell the students about the dangers of distracted driving “maybe somebody will take that advice” to drive safely.

It sounded like fellow student Cortney Quaca planned to listen, especially because she admitted she had been fiddling with her phone while driving to school Monday morning. She said when it comes to making the decision to drive distraction-free, it has to start that day, not tomorrow, or next week, or next month, but today.

“How do you know you’re going to get another day?” Quaca asked. “You can’t take any chances.”

Both Johanessen and Quaca said they believe the Brezitskis’ presentation should be mandatory for students to hear, with Quaca adding it should be heard by everyone, not just those in the nearby areas.

“It’s a great story and it impacts you,” Quaca said.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment