On Tuesday, May 10th, 2016, my Dad left for work from our house in Hemet to begin his 150 mile round trip daily commute to Indio. Early as ever, he finished replying to one last email question before work, kissed my mom goodbye, and got into his 2013 Volkswagen Beetle (a diesel, of course, my dad being a total diesel guru).
Now, I've been on countless drives with my Dad, as you can imagine. My entire family has. After a lot of discussion, we all agreed he always put his seatbelt on during every drive we could remember-- just not always right away. Sometimes he needed a gentle reminder from my Mom, and other times something would just click in his mind, shortly followed by the click of his belt. In all newer cars, such as his Beetle, which would give off a few chirps every 3-4 minutes when the driver isn't buckled in, this delayed-belting tendency of his improved drastically. He would -always- have his buckle on by the third, and in rare cases the fourth chirp, no prompting from mom needed. His hard hearing from decades of using air and power tools meant he could miss the first couple sets of chirps, as well as his need to tune into the correct talk radio station and make sure his daily Diet Pepsi was situated properly in its cup holder.
My Dad was less than 7 minutes away from our house when he approached the same two-lane bend in Ramona Expressway as a 20-year-old Hemet kid and his little brother travelling the opposite direction. According to the kid's testimony, he briefly fell asleep at the wheel, tired from a long night helping his family move. He drifted over into my Dad's lane.
The Saturn sedan hit Dad's VW at the most unforgivingly catastrophic angle possible. My Dad instantly lost his rear driver side wheel, causing his Beetle to overturn and roll multiple times.
Less than seven minutes from home. One, maybe two chirps max. Just barely shy of the three he needed to ensure his seat belt was fastened.
Ronald Wayne Huxell, the most important man in my life, my role model, a man who touched the lives of so many, more than I ever knew, was ejected through the sunroof of his Volkswagen.
Witnesses to the accident, who waited with my Dad for emergency response, told us he was immediately knocked unconscious. He had a laceration to the back of the head, as well as a broken wrist and hip. However, what prevented the doctors from saving him was severe internal bleeding, brought about by his body being quickly and violently forced through the sunroof. The witnesses told us his face, however, was unscathed and handsome as ever.
The Hospital pronounced him dead at 7:30am.
The 20-year-old and his brother suffered minor injuries, which didn't require medical attention. Their Saturn, when seen next to my Dad's Beetle, escaped so intact I couldn't help but deem it shockingly unfair.
My Dad, as so many of you know, never once thought about himself. He lived first and foremost for his family: his wife, Sonya, his three sons, Blake, Adam and I, and of course his youngest daughter, Brooke. Since before I can remember, my Dad worked tirelessly Monday through Friday, with the occasional Saturday, always leaving early in the morning just before I got up for school and getting home just before I went to bed. He always said that if he had a single regret, it was only that he didn't spend enough time with us kids.
My Dad moved to Hemet from Ohio, at the age of 10, and grew up in poverty unparalleled to the situation of anyone I've ever met. He grew up in the back of his Mom's antique shop, the fourth child among five. He always told us kids we should've grown up poor, because being made to do without forces one to find true happiness, which I always understood as the joy gleaned through enriching others, as opposed to the emptiness resulting from material enrichment. However, he was always quick to add that he hated poverty more than any adversity he'd ever been faced with, so much so that he could never, and would never, allow us to experience it.
The countless hours my Dad slaved over monstrous Ford Diesel trucks were all for us. All of the profits went to seeing we hardly wanted for anything, as long as it furthered our happiness, productivity, or success. His needs, and especially his wants, fell by the wayside. Even convincing him to trade a bone stock basic '92 2WD Toyota Pickup for something with modern amenities was a multi-month process. Even then, his humble choice of a VW Beetle left me wishing he would treat himself in at least some aspect of life, especially since he spent by far the most time out of any of us Huxells behind the wheel.
After his family, my dad looked after anyone who needed him, especially if his unrivaled automotive repair skills were called upon. My Dad was, without question, the most honest and knowledgeable automotive technician (he always scoffed at the title mechanic, correcting us kids if we applied the term to him and insisting it made his work sound like the oversimplified chores of a moron) the west coast, and to my knowledge, the world, has ever known. Now, I may be a bit biased, but I know almost everyone reading this would agree. He began the trade at 14 in his dad's shop, and was perfecting his skills almost every day until the age of 53.
Despite my Dad's unmatched commitment to his work, it was no secret that he lived for the weekends. My siblings and I have the best memories of our lives vacationing anywhere and everywhere with our Dad, starting the occasional Friday night and ending late Sunday. This was the only time we got to truly spend with our Dad and we relished every moment of it.
Ron Huxell was an amazing man and human being. Most of you knew him as a lighthearted jokester, though only he understood a lot of his puns and antics; as an extremely helpful soul, who couldn't relax unless every person around him was doing the same; as the pickiest eater of his age, who often said he'd starve before he ate a fish or vegetable; as a man loved immensely by the massive group that called him friend or family, and hardly disliked even by the minute handful that called him otherwise; as one of the very few selfless people to come out of this world, who would do anything for those he cared about rather than even consider thinking about Ron.
Thank you so much for reading this and remembering the incredible spirit that was my Dad.
This GoFundMe Campaign is beginning relatively late after the accident, as my family and I were reluctant to accept donations on behalf of Dad's prideful and stubborn, yet purely generous soul. It was only after having an unexpectedly large amount of requests for a GoFundMe, coupled with the tragic yet unavoidable action of paying for my Dad's funeral with money he was saving for our next vacation, that we agreed it should be done.
The $9,000 goal is the cost of his funeral. I'm very excited for my mom at the thought of reaching this goal. I know my dad would never believe the scope of the response to his departure. He always semi-jokingly said he didn't have friends. Of course I knew otherwise while he was still with us, and witnessing the reaction to his passing, I don't think I've known any man with quite so many friends. As I said in the beginning, he touched the lives of so many, more than I ever knew.
Any funds over the goal will go to my amazing Mother, Sonya Huxell, a widowed mom currently putting two kids through college, and still raising two more, on a fourth of the income she's used to and, more tragically, without the man she fell asleep next to for 33 years.
Thank you again for reading. Also, thank you from the bottom of the Huxell family's hearts for those who wish to donate in memory of Ron Huxell. Expect a personal thank you as well. Rest in Peace Dad, knowing you cultivated an unfathomable amount of love throughout your 53 short but legendary years on this Earth.
-Corey Huxell, on behalf of the Huxell Family