Family remembers man who plunged off I-81
Sun, 24 Jan 2010 03:45:42 GMT —
For the family of Jason Rhoades, the pain is still very fresh. On the sixth anniversary of his death, his wife is speaking publicly for the first time, to honor Jason and to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again.
Isabelle Rhoades is Jason's wife. She said, "Everyday we feel his loss, every single day."
It was six years ago when Isabelle lost her husband and the father of her two kids. Luke was 21 months. Amelia was just 11 weeks old.
Jason's loved ones say he was a dynamic person. He was the youngest mayor ever of East Syracuse at 25. By 28 he had a great job at Cornell University, a wife, two kids, and life was good until that night.
Jason's uncle Pete Grevelding said, "I think of the horror of having your car tip over and you're going down on the roof."
That snowy night back in 2004 Jason lost control of his car. He hit a snow bank on the side of an overpass along route 81 and then plunged to the ground below.
Isabelle said, "That is something that I think about everyday, every night, how he suffered alone, how scared he must have been, how he must have been thinking about us."
His family still feels overwhelmed with grief at times. But they're also angry that snow wasn't cleared from the overpass. Right now they have pending legal action against the state.
"To me its sickening to hear the state lawyers and people refer to it as an unfortunate incident. It's not an unfortunate incident. It's an avoidable tragic accident," said Isabelle.
Most days they put their anger aside and instead focus on telling his kids about the happy memories of their dad. "Everyday I try to say daddy loved when I cooked this chicken that was his favorite. Or daddy hated peas. Just so they get to know him through stories," said Isabelle.
But still, Luke, now 7, doesn't have his dad at the baseball game. And there are no answers for six year old Amelia when she wonders why this happened to her family.
"My daughter has said, 'Mommy, I wish I had a real dad not just a picture dad' because she has a photograph of her dad," Isabelle said.
Just two days after Jason was killed, 50 year old William Gardner died the same way. He also hit a snow bank along a route 81 overpass and plunged to the ground below.