Farewell to Darren: A Good Friend

We had some very sad news on Friday.  My friend Darren was killed in a car crash at work on Friday, May 30, 2008.   It is hard to believe how this happened: two women in a suspected drug deal outside of Redstone Arsenal were approached by police and fled; this initiated a car chase that led onto the Arsenal.  It is amazing that the concrete blockades did not slow the fleeing car enough to be stopped.  Other countermeasures that were apparently available were not employed; the local police and unmarked cars were waved on through instead.  Another friend told me that he generally has to slow down to about 10 mph to get through the barriers.  The car in question was doing about 30 – 40 mph; it basically went on two wheels and had its bumper ripped off.  The car had already sideswiped a car on South Parkway before entering the Arsenal.  Darren’s car was T-boned at the intersection of Martin and Rideout roads.  Two other cars were hit in the aftermath.  Darren was killed instantly.  The article in yesterday’s paper is here.  A photo of Darren and Kelly was in the paper today.  It was a little strange that the paper had his age wrong yesterday (50) and today (38).

He was 39 and leaves behind a wife, Kelly, and two boys, Ben, 6, and James, 3.  Darren and Kelly had lived in this area for the whole length of their marriage of 11 years.  We had begun reaquainting ourselves since we moved back to AL.  We had them over for dinner, and they had us.  Darren and I had gotten together for a strategy board game session while Kelly and the kids came over to our house.  Then, about 3 or 4 weeks ago, Darren and I went to see “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”.  We had a good conversation after the movie.  He had bought my ticket and said that I could get the next one.  I had recently been thinking of the next movie we could see together.   

Kim and Kelly had somewhat regularly been meeting on Wednesdays; typically they would meet at a local restaurant with a playground.  Kelly has been a good friend to Kim since the move.  In fact, she has been one of Kim’s best friends here so far; it helped to have previous history.  I had hoped that our families would become better friends as time went on, and felt that this was starting to happen.  Shortly after we arrived from my job change, he decided to change jobs to allow for more time with family.  When we heard that he was interviewing in Minnesota, we thought that our ideas might not work out and were happy that he took the job with NASA here instead.  Neither we nor anyone else could have imagined the subsequent events happening. 

Speaking of previous history, I met Darren at Tennessee Tech University in 1990, as I recall.  We had many conversations about science fiction and fact, shared interests in strategy board games, sci-fi shows like Babylon 5, Star Trek, et al, and general history, and carried on deep philosophical and religious discussions during the time at the Christian Student Center.  He was in our wedding and I was in his.  We had a few rocky times along the way, but that smoothed over.  Darren came to my doctoral graduation ceremony with another close friend.  I had tried to keep in touch with him by email some while in LA.  As we all do, he had changed some as time went on.  But, it was good to begin getting to know each other again; it’s like you almost pick up where you left off.  He was a good friend and will be missed. 

I think that anytime someone dies at an age that seems young in comparison with the average age span, that it carries a certain element of tragedy with it.  I feel sad for Kelly, for the boys, for their families, and for us.  And, I suppose that there are always certain regrets that you have, whether serious or surface, too.  This is definitely a strong reminder about the brevity of life.   And it makes you want to hug those you love who are still with you a little tigher everyday.  I pray that God watches over Kelly and the kids.  We have anticipated there being a good chance that they will leave this area to be with family in Tennessee, where they will have very good support.  Darren’s family would be closer to them as well.  If that happens, we will miss Kelly and the boys here too.

God Bless You Darren.  Farewell for now: we hope to see you again someday.

Published in: on June 1, 2008 at 9:00 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I think you and I both feel like we are in that same station in life. It could have just as easily been us. We don’t have guarantees of tomorrow, only today. I think you are right, we should really show our love for those around us.

    Very sorry for the loss Mark.

  2. I appreciate the thought. I visited with the family tonight; Kim went 2 of the past 3 nights. It is very sad to think about those 2 boys who will grow up without their dad, who loved them. Tomorrow is the funeral and I am planning to be there. Looking forward to the weekend visit. Take care.

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