GREENE CO., Ohio (WDTN) - The Wildman family is persevering.
"You don't have a choice," said Austin Wildman. "You just have got to get up and put your pants on and your shoes and socks and move forward. You can't just quit."
In October 2010, Eben Wildman, the oldest son of Austin and Sarah Wildman, was killed in a crash on State Route 343 in Miami Township. The family believes Eben was texting.
"He was texting a young lady he'd been with earlier in the evening and lost control, went off to the right, overcorrected and rolled his car off the road and into a tree and was killed instantly," said Austin.
The news of his death rocked the lives of Eben's friends and family members. He was well-known and liked. His mother, Sarah, described him as a young man with, "bountiful energy," a "ready smile," and "lots of friends."
Eben was a US Junior Olympic skeet shooter, and loved to hunt and fish on the family farm just outside South Charleston in Clark County. After graduation, he went to Miami University on a full scholarship to be a part of the ROTC program there. He was home from serving as a Midshipman 3rd Class at the time of the crash. Eben's dream was to become a Navy SEAL.
All that came to an abrupt end when Austin Wildman got a call from the coroner's office.
"This is the worst event that could possibly occur. You never expect to bury your children," Austin said.
"There are moments when it's overwhelming and for myself I find that it's it's not that there's any single thing that triggers the emotion or that brings it on," said Sarah Wildman. "It's just that all of a sudden I just get overcome."
As the family continues to grieve, they are determined to make something positive out of the tragedy. They're telling their story as WDTN and Dayton's CW launch their 2nd annual Wait 2 TXT campaign.
Beginning September 5, 2012, 2 News Today Anchor Holly Samuels and Dayton's CW Star Brandy Zapata will tour area high schools and ask juniors and seniors to take the pledge not to text and drive. During the school assemblies, Holly will share the Wildman's story.
"Texting and driving kills, and it doesn't just kill the person behind the wheel, it kills the innocent bystander, it kills the person in the other car," said Sarah.
"I just pray that kids will somehow grasp the idea that they are not immortal, that they can be killed, and it's not a pretty death. It's a very ugly death, and I wish it somehow could be stopped," Austin said.
There are several apps that can help curb the urge to text and drive.
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