An Ottawa Hills couple who has been raising awareness about teen drinking locally will take that message to a broader audience today.
Drs. Brian and Cynthia Hoeflinger will appear on Katie Couric’s show Katie, at 3 p.m. on Channel 13, to share how they lost their 18-year-old son, Brian, in a drunken driving crash Feb. 1. The Hoeflingers’ younger son, Kevin, also will be on the show, which will focus on teen binge drinking.
“We told a little about the day [Brian] died and our mission to raise awareness of this huge epidemic and problem of teenage drinking and binge drinking, to show what you can have and what you can lose,” Mrs. Hoeflinger said.
The Hoeflingers have been speaking at area schools and other venues because they want to spread the message about an issue that they say many parents ignore or pass off as a rite of passage.
“I don’t think any longer we can say, ‘not my child,’” Mrs. Hoeflinger said. “The statistics prove there are far more people drinking than what parents acknowledge. Our son had very few, if any, of the risk factors that they associate with risky behavior so I think that illustrates even further that it can to happen to anyone.”
A senior at Ottawa Hills High School, Brian was an honor student and golfer who planned to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after graduation. He died after drinking at a friend’s party then getting behind the wheel and crashing into a tree.
“He was very successful in every aspect of his life so there were no warning signs,” his mother said.
Pending in Lucas County Common Pleas Court is a misdemeanor charge of selling or furnishing intoxicating liquor to a minor, which was filed against the clerk at Foxx Liquor Store, 5341 Dorr St., who allegedly sold a bottle of vodka to Brian’s friend that night.
Mrs. Hoeflinger said she and her husband are “currently, actively working on changing or creating legislation which will aid in this huge epidemic,” although she declined to be more specific.
“Our message has always been one of positivity,” she added. “We want to change things, and it has to be done in a positive fashion. We want to use what we’ve learned and what we’ve gone through to try to help anybody else avoid this. That is what our mission is.”
Since the tragedy, Brian’s father has written a book called The Night He Died: The Harsh Reality of Teenage Drinking, which went on sale Jan. 11 through brianmatters.com or amazon.com.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.