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True story: My cousin was killed by a drunk driver

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- December has been designated National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

A month before he was scheduled to leave for Air Force Basic Training, Jacob Forbes was killed in a single drunk driving accident in Carroll County, Mo. May 17, 2008.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol accident report, Forbes, a passenger traveling in a 2008 Ford, was heading westbound on U.S. Highway 24 at about 8:25 a.m. when the accident occurred at County Road 287.

The vehicle went off the left side of the roadway, overturned and struck a utility pole, coming to rest on its wheels, police said. Forbes' life was cut short and today the tragedy of the fatal automobile accident continues to weigh heavily on his friends and family.

"His mother and my mother are twins so our families have always been really close," said Megan Moore, Jacob's cousin, and wife of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Marcus Moore, Army National Guard, 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion Apache pilot. "I don't have any brothers, so Jacob was like a little brother to me.
"The morning I got the call from my cousin, Jacob's sister, I was at the St. Louis Zoo with my family," Megan said. "One of the hardest things I've ever had to do is hold it together for the rest of my family and contact my mother to send her to the hospital without knowing how bad it would be."

Jacob's aunt had already gone through a similar experience when her parents' best friends' son died in 2001.

When Jacob's friends learned about the car crash, they too had learned the hard lessons about drinking and driving. Megan said Jacob's funeral was packed because so many people cared about him.

"Jacob knew no stranger," Megan said. "He had friends everywhere and was very well liked."

A close friend of Jacob even named her son after him in his memory.

"As you can imagine, it was very hard for all of us to see him in a casket," Megan said. "It was also very difficult to pick out clothes to dress their son for his funeral," she said.

"They picked out the suit jacket that he bought and wore to our grandmother's funeral because he was so proud of it."

Now that Jacob has passed, the Forbes' name legacy can no longer be carried on because he was their only son.

"Although we cannot turn back the hands of time we can only move forward and tell others about it in hopes that they will make different choices," she said. Everyone in the vehicle was wearing their safety belts.

The Ford was declared totaled and towed from the scene, police said. The two survivors received moderate injuries. The driver pled guilty to three counts and sentencing assessment of involuntary manslaughter, a class C felony, assault in the second degree, a class C felony, and minor in possession of alcohol by consumption, according to www.courts.mo.gov.
She also served 120-days in jail, had five years of probation, lost her license for five years, and was ordered 50 hours of community service. She was ordered to enter drug and alcohol counseling and have an ignition interlock system on any car she operates. She was also discharged from the U.S. Army National Guard.

Every year at Christmas, Megan said her family chooses something to honor Jacob's memory and raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. Last year, they raised money to have a sign posted on the highway where the accident happened, reminding people of the real life dangers drinking and driving causes.

Jacob was a student at the University of Central Missouri and was the lead singer for the band "The Lights go Out in Georgia."

Editor's note: The interview was conducted Dec. 2; Jacob would have celebrated his 24th birthday.