"Your family is more important than that text."
On November 9, 2020, Deputy Bill Earl of the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office was on duty when he received a call asking him to come down to the Sheriff's Office. Naturally, his mind started racing trying to think of what he did wrong. Little could prepare him for what he was about it hear.
"Your son Joe was in a crash and he didn't make it."
Joe was traveling between Dickinson and Bismarck, a road he had traveled countless times. It is believed that Joe was distracted by a gaming app on his phone at the time of the crash.
This tragedy sheds light on the importance of teaching your kids about distracted driving, but also the need to lead by example. Deputy Earl recalls a time he was driving a five speed vehicle, texting, eating and smoking a cigarette all at the same time. Joe was quick to call him out, "I think you need some more things to do, dad."
"I feel like I set the bad example for him. I feel like his death is on me because I taught him bad behavior."
Along with guilt, Deputy Earl carries a lot of pain from losing his son. He stresses how much Joe's choice to drive distracted affects his family and friends. "Joe had a personality that I don't know of anybody who didn't like him. Why would you want to put your friends and family through the torment of losing you?"
Additionally, Joe was not buckled up at the time of the crash and was ejected. Wearing your seat belt is your best defense in a motor vehicle crash.
"Your kids are watching. Teach them the right way and lead by example."