Matt Gillis, Deseret News
OREM — The parents of a young boy who was killed in a driveway accident five years ago are offering empathy to the family of 15-year-old Marli Hamblin.
She was sunbathing Friday when a family member backed over her in Syracuse. She was rushed to the hospital and died Sunday.
Five years ago, almost to the day, Jana Lynn and Quinn Kofford lost their 4-year-old son Cooper when a family member backed over him in his driveway. He was warming up on their driveway after a swim in the pool.
They still live in the home where it happened. They say they found peace through their LDS faith and support from the community.
On July 31, 2009, Cooper had been swimming and ran out to get warm by lying on the driveway. But that day was the first time he fell asleep there.
His aunt had gone out to move the family's sport utility vehicle and never saw him lying there.
“I remember taking my flip-flops off and kneeling beside him because he was very broke and I couldn’t pick him up,” Jana Lynn Kofford said.
For her, the day of her son's death still plays out vividly in her mind.
“He was fast asleep, and I’m certain died very quickly,” she said.
After those first few horrible moments, Kofford said a feeling of calm and peace washed over her.
“Even today, even though I miss him terribly and there is a void in my heart where he should be, I just know that all is well,” she said.
When the Koffords heard of Marli’s death, they couldn’t help but notice all the similarities. Even Cooper’s middle name is Hamblin.
“The emotions came back and you immediately begin to feel and empathize for the family and the pain they’re going through,” Quinn Kofford said.
“Instantly, my heart broke for that family because I knew what I felt like five years ago to be in their shoes,” Jana Lynn Kofford said.
The Koffords have channeled their heartache into Cooper's Run, a 5K held each year near the anniversary of his death. All the money raised goes right back to the community.
They've been able to pay tuition for a number of children at Cooper’s old preschool and donate to the first responders who they say showed so much compassion in that difficult time.
“From our perspective, our son's death has been a very powerful force for good in our lives and our family’s lives,” Quinn Kofford said.
The bond these two families share is one of unspeakable grief, but in time the Koffords hope this other family, too, will feel peace.
The Koffords wants the Hamblins to know that although they've never met, they would welcome the opportunity to talk about these two children who were loved so much and lost too soon, if and when the time is right.
“I still miss my son now just as much as when he first passed away," Jana Lynn Kofford said. “But my heart has healed and I know the sweet Hamblins' family hearts will heal, too.”
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