Louis Mitchell Hall December 6, 1981 – September 5, 2008
Written by Sharon Hall, Louis’ mother
My husband and I have three children: Louis, Jeremy and Alicia.
Louis Mitchell Hall is our first born child – even as a baby, he was very bright in all that he did. Louis taught us what unconditional love meant. He valued family and friends with his whole being. He was athletic; loved the thrill of roller hockey and wrestling. He discovered a love of technology when he was still a child and would work very hard to buy the gadgets he wanted. A self-professed “technology geek”, he was working towards a degree as a Computer Network Technology Specialist. We are so grateful that he found his niche in the computer world and was starting his career with a local computer based company. We had a wonderful relationship with our son and it was rewarding to see what he was accomplishing in his adult life.
On the night of September 5, 2008, Louis sent me a text message that he and his co-workers were going out after work – the message closed with the comment that he would see me at home later and a big “I LOVE YOU”. I never received another text message from our first born son.
My husband was out of the country on business that night, due to return the next day. I was home alone when I answered a knock on the door at 11:30 PM and found two Florida Highway Patrolmen. As I stepped outside, they asked me if I had a son named Louis Hall. I repeatedly asked them where my son was and they proceeded to tell me about a crash on the Crosstown Expressway – one of the officers said the words “expired at the scene”…
These were the words that would be forever engraved in my memory. One of the things I said that night was “this doesn’t happen to me – it happens to other people”.
The next days were spent giving the news to the people who loved Louis the most.
My mother came in the morning and I told her about Louis’ crash. She asked if he was ok and I told her that he had been killed. Louis and his grandmother had a very close relationship and spent time going on many adventures.
The next day I was accompanied to the airport by our ministers to pick my husband up. It was in the airport chapel that I told him our son had been killed.
We then drove to Gainesville to tell our daughter, who screamed in disbelief when we told her.
We had to tell Jeremy, who lives in Colorado, over the phone.
And then we drove to Sarasota to tell Louis’ girlfriend.
This was followed by days of making difficult decisions about burial or cremation, a memorial service, music, flowers, and pictures – while still trying to process how this could be real. In this deep grief and pain, it was incredibly difficult to make these decisions. How many of us knows what our 26 year old child’s wishes for burial are?
It was several months later when the crash investigation was completed. We were shocked to learn that the investigation was named “vehicular homicide”. We thought this was just an accident.
What we know is a group of co-workers went out after work on that Friday night. According to their boss, no one had more than a couple of beers. Louis got in the front seat of a car with one of his co-workers and they headed to Brandon to a get-together at someone’s house.
On the Crosstown Expressway they were travelling at a high rate of speed when Louis’ co-worker lost control of the vehicle, began spinning and hit an exit sign at 89 mph. They spun again hitting a guardrail, the car flipped over, landing on its wheels at the bottom of an embankment. The impact was so great that the passenger seat was moved to the rear of the vehicle. This is where our son was found – still strapped in appearing as he had been sleeping. They tell us that he died instantly and did not suffer. This has left me little consolation.
The driver’s seatbelt was broken at the buckle and he was ejected from the car. He had a BAC of .12.
We live daily with excruciating fact that we will never again get a family picture. Louis missed his sister’s college graduation. At his siblings’ weddings, his picture was on a memorial table with a candle lit in his memory and a small, heart-shaped box which held some of his ashes. We will never hear his voice again, his laughter, his funny sayings or his jokes. We will never spend another holiday together as a family.
I can’t remember his voice or what his hands looked like, but sometimes I can remember his sweet laughter when he was a little boy. In my mind he will always look like he did when I dropped him off for work that Friday morning – in jeans, his nice black dress shoes and a white cotton dress shirt.
Our story now includes our work with MADD West Central Florida. I am a Program Manager, managing an amazing group of Program Specialists across the state of Florida who take MADD’s Power of Parents and Power of Youth messages to their communities. My husband and I also serve on the Walk Like MADD Committee, which my husband co-chairs and volunteer our time speaking about Louis – who he was and how this crash has impacted us at MADD Victim Impact Panels.
It is our hope that through this tragedy we can ensure that other mother’s never get that knock on the door at 11:30 PM on a Friday night.