The Hoeflingers are devastated and struggling to deal with the death of their oldest son, Brian— who died in a fiery crash 10 days ago about a mile from their Ottawa Hills home — but the couple is hoping the tragedy will spur something positive.
Speaking the day after 18-year-old Brian N. Hoeflinger was buried, his father, Dr. Brian F. Hoeflinger, said he and his wife, Cindy, had been overwhelmed by the “outpouring of love and support” from family, neighbors, his son’s classmates, and even strangers.
“A young person died and people do not know how to feel,” Dr. Hoeflinger said. “Something good could come of this. ... We have a new mission in life. I want to try and channel this and do something good.”
The couple said they want to establish a memorial scholarship fund in their son’s honor and also an annual golf tournament since he was an avid and competitive golfer for years.
The younger Mr. Hoeflinger had been at a schoolmate’s birthday party Feb. 1. After leaving the party, he was southbound on Edgehill Road about 11:50 p.m. when his vehicle went off the street’s west side, struck a tree near a bridge over the Ottawa River, and caught fire, the Ohio Highway Patrol said.
Dr. James Patrick, Lucas County coroner, days later said his blood-alcohol level was 0.15 percent, nearly double the legal limit for drivers 21 and older.
The Hoeflingers said Saturday they were not ready to talk about how alcohol played a role in their son’s death and endeavored to instead concentrate now on the positive aspects of Brian’s life — including his ability to include people in everything, his kindness, and his “goofy” sense of humor.
“I know we will be out there talking to kids eventually,” Dr. Hoeflinger said.
Mrs. Hoeflinger said Brian’s classmates and teammates are also grieving and trying to process the tragedy.
“He and I just took a trip to [University] of North Carolina and he was really excited about going there,” Mrs. Hoeflinger said. “He wanted to be an orthodontist. He had an eye for fine detail.”
A banner reading, “Rest in Peace, Brian. You’ve Touched all of our lives! Keep on Clapping,” hangs in the gymnasium at Ottawa Hills High School, where Brian was a senior.
His mother explained that Brian used to cup his hand and “clap” people on the face. “It didn't hurt, it was this funny thing he did.”
Jack Tansey, a senior at the high school and a friend of Brian, said many students have talked about drinking and driving after the accident.
“Tons of people are talking about the drinking aspect a lot,” Mr. Tansey said, after a girls’ basketball game at the school Saturday.
He added: “A lot of people have learned to appreciate the sense of community in Ottawa Hills. ... Brian had such a big impact here.”
Dr. Hoeflinger said his son had transferred to Ottawa Hills High in the fall from St. John’s Jesuit High School, which he had attended for three years and where he had a 4.5 grade-point average.
He was a straight-A student at Ottawa Hills, his father said.
Brian’s three siblings, Kevin, 15; Julie 14, and Christie, 11, each said they are dealing with the loss as best as possible, and trying to concentrate on his life rather than his death.
“Everyone has been really supportive,” Christie said. “It’s really weird because he was so young.”
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.