By Rebecca Friedemann

Never forget Brett.  Those are the three words printed on the orange basketball I have attached to my keychain.  The problem is I never even knew Brett.  He died back in 2004, before we were in high school, before we yearned for a license, before any of us drove our friends.  But despite that, his story is one worth repeating.

Brett Callan was a sixteen-year-old at Casa Grande.  He had friends, and a little sister, and parents, and hopes for the future.  But in the summer of 2004, he and his best friend were driving with two other girls on the back roads surrounding Petaluma.  His friend was driving too fast when he lost control.  The car flipped several times before coming to rest upside down.  Brett was taken to the hospital, but in the end, he didn’t make it.

How many times have we heard this same story?  Teens that failed to consider the consequences before acting.  More importantly, how many times do we have to hear it before we learn?  I admit that I drive too fast, I take my eyes off the road to adjust my stereo, and I allow passengers to distract me.  But that keychain, that simple orange basketball, now serves as my constant reminder.  Each time I twist on that ignition I am reminded of the immense responsibility I take on by getting behind the wheel.  Since the day I attached that basketball to my keychain I have vowed to consider the consequences.  I have vowed to remember that even something as seemingly innocuous as speeding could change everything.

So this is what I ask of you: never forget Brett.  Never forget his story, or the pain his parents went through, or his friends that carried his casket and spoke at his funeral.  And never forget that what happened to him might just as easily happen to anyone in high school.