Dallas Downs, or “Bubba” as he was known to family and friends, was a huge University of Kentucky fan, played the guitar, loved the outdoors and was always up for an adventure! His favorite things were hunting, fishing, camping, kayaking, ATV’s, and fast cars. But family was the most important thing to him. They came first and foremost in his life. He was especially close to his mom, Michelle. At 19, Dallas was the oldest son of the family. He had one older sister, a younger sister, and two younger brothers and he was very close to his siblings, as well.

But on April 7, 2018, the family’s world would collapse to learn Dallas had been the passenger with a drunk and drugged driver when the car crashed at 109mph. Michelle says she was awakened that day by a phone call from the sheriff in the early morning hours and told Dallas had been in a wreck and that she needed to come to the local hospital where the Sheriff would be waiting for her in the emergency room entrance. She wanted to know if her son was ok and would he have to be transferred to another hospital. The sheriff said he was fine and cautioned her to just be careful and take her time getting there as it was foggy and the deer were out. Michelle drove herself to the hospital, praying, over and over, “Please let my baby be ok.” When she arrived, she ended up at the ambulance entrance instead of the regular emergency room entrance. She beat on the doors until nurses let her in and verified who she was. Michelle told them, “I was told my son, Dallas Downs, had been in a wreck and the sheriff told me to come here.” The ER doctor responded, “Sorry, but Dallas is dead.”

Dallas with baby brother cropped

Dallas with baby brother

Michelle says in that very instance, her life forever changed. “It completely stopped on a dime!” Michelle’s mother said Michelle screamed when she heard the news – a scream and cry that “has never sounded like that before and is indescribable to anything she had ever heard before.” They picked Michelle up off the floor, picked up her purse and all of its contents that were scattered throughout the hallway, and gathered her shoes that were no longer on her feet. Michelle doesn’t remember much of anything else that was said throughout the next couple of hours, but she remembers they escorted her to her baby. After holding her son for a few hours, which seemed like minutes, she had to leave him and go home to tell her other children that their brother had died, without having fully processed herself that she had just lost her son.

She says when she got back home people were already there (perks of a small town) and her daughter who still lived at home already knew and was just waiting for verification from her mother that it was true. “The closest heartache I have ever experienced to the news my son was dead was having to tell my other children,” Michelle says. She had to wake her 11-year-old son to tell him, and get in touch with her oldest daughter who was 21 and lived two states away to tell her the news. Then, there was her one-year-old son. She knew he would never have any memories made with his oldest brother that he would remember. She recalls, “My heart was completely shattered that day and it felt like I had died alongside my son.”

When she thinks of Dallas, the first thing that comes to mind is his big beautiful smile that would light up any room! He had an infectious laugh and a funny, charming personality and caring heart. “He gave the best hugs and loved with all his heart!” she adds, “To know him meant you knew what love was!” Even at 19 when he would come home and he would lay his head in his mom’s lap and want her to rub his hair. That’s just one of the things she misses the most, besides hearing him say “I love you, Mom.”

Dallas lived life to the fullest and was unselfishness to others. He was a great listener and would always be there for anyone in need. The long list of friends he made in his short life is a testament to that. Though he hadn’t quite figured out yet what he wanted to do with his career, he had talked about wanting to go to a trade school to become a welder. He also wanted to become a husband and father one day. But that day will never come.

“Life today is nothing like I ever expected it to be,” says Michelle. The best description I can give of how I feel is to share something that one of my daughters told me just last week: It is like the world around me is in motion and I am just frozen in time, not living, and just physically here.” She said it’s hard to know how to “live life” now. “The devastation and emptiness I now feel every day is indescribable.”

She hopes that sharing her son’s story, will save lives. She is painfully aware that Dallas’ death was 100% preventable. “He was taken way too soon in such a preventable, selfish, and irresponsible way. Driving is a privilege, and a responsibility that should be treated as such. To take that lightly affects not only the driver, but the passengers (like in my son’s case), the victims and their families, and everyone else on the roads.” Dallas made an impact on the life of everyone who knew him. Michelle says, “I couldn’t be more proud of the person he was and honored to be his mom! He was definitely one in a lifetime!” Dallas will forever be remembered, never forgotten, and missed greatly by everyone who got the honor of knowing him. And he will be “Forever momma’s boy!”