Monday, September 06, 1999

Fatal crash leads teen to reflection

Carefree ride home became mangled wreck in an instant

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Kyle Herald has settled into his routine: running to classes, sweating through football and track practice, hanging out with friends.

        “Everything is back to normal now,” the quiet 17-year-old Ross High School senior said. “But I don't think I'll ever look at things the same way after the crash.”

        On Aug. 20, he awakened cut, sore and bruised in a mangled car, his best friend's head collapsed on his shoulder, his neighbor unconscious in the back seat.

        There was nothing he could do to stop football teammates Adam Brinkman and Scott King from dying.

        With the support of friends, coaches and Adam's parents, he has a new reason to live life to the fullest.

        “Adam's mom hugged me and told me that Adam finished his job here, that's why he was taken away,” Kyle said. “But God left me here for a purpose. I can't just give up. For Adam, I have to find my purpose in life.”

        He is dreaming of his future again. He hopes to get a track scholarship to Ohio University and become a mechanical engineer.

        For a week, however, his mind kept replaying the accident as it unfolded.

"New kid' got a ride
        Football practice had gone unusually quickly. Usually, they finish by 11 a.m.

        That day, Kyle, a wide receiver and snapper for the team, hopped into Adam's car. They were pulling out of the parking lot by 10:15 when Scott came running up and knocked on the window.

        “I knew he was the new kid, but I never talked to him before,” Kyle said. “It was the first time he ever drove with us, and we didn't even know where he lived.”

        In minutes they were talking like good friends. In late spring, Scott had moved in with his stepfather five doors down from Kyle's house, and he always saw Kyle walking his dog.

        “I only knew him from the car ride, but I was already starting to like him,” Kyle said. “I had a new neighbor.”

Other driver faulted
        As they talked, Adam was coasting up and down the hills on narrow Kirschling Road. Police reports estimate that Adam was driving at nearly 70 mph, but Kyle insists that Adam's Plymouth Sundance wasn't traveling that fast.

        “I always used to kid him about his car because his car could never go fast,” he said. “It couldn't even get up to 60 when we used to go to the mall. And we were going uphill when suddenly that car came out of nowhere.”

        Kyle thinks it was a silver Dodge Intrepid, taking up the middle of the road, refusing to budge.

        As Adam straightened out his car, it ran into a mailbox, smashing its windshield. With no way to see, he barreled onto the other side of the road and smashed into a tree.

        “I could hear the grass swooshing and feel the car sliding from under me. I can't remember hitting the tree.”

        He woke up with minor cuts. The car's dashboard was up to his knees, and Adam was pushed up against him, still alive. Kyle tried to pull him up, but Adam was stuck.

        Climbing out the window, he tried vainly to reach Scott.

        Then Kyle ran to the closest house for help.

        By the time he got back, police kept him from the wreck. All he could see was the car's front end as it burst into flame.

        “I went home, and even though I knew things were bad, I kept saying to myself that he's going to call any minute from the hospital,” he said. “It took me a bit to realize he was gone.”

        That first week was hard. Kyle cried a lot, but he always had a friend, family member or counselor to cry with him.

        “The funerals were really difficult, but everyone told me not to be upset. They said Adam is where we all want to be. We talked about him a lot and soon I felt better,” he said. “When we buried him in the cemetery, I felt at peace, like everything is over now and he was looking down on me.”

        He lost a best friend to go to the mall with and to watch TV with on Saturdays. He had known Adam for three years and they always chose each other as lab partners at D. Russel Lee Career Center.

        Kyle said Adam would not want him to dwell on his death but to get on with life.

        “Adam was looser than most people,” Kyle said. “He never got frustrated with things, but that never stopped him from getting things done. One thing he would want me to do is not to take things so seriously. Sometimes I still cry, but I think I can start over now.”


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