Parents of boy killed in driveway mishap offer empathy to Syracuse family

By Ashley Kewish, Deseret News

Published: Mon, Aug. 11, 2014, 5:40 p.m. MDT

 Quinn Kofford, right, and Jana Kofford sit on Cooper's bench, a bench made in honor of their son Cooper Kofford, who died July 31, 2009, at the Koffords' house in Orem, on July 7, 2010.

Quinn Kofford, right, and Jana Kofford sit on Cooper's bench, a bench made in honor of their son Cooper Kofford, who died July 31, 2009, at the Koffords' house in Orem, on July 7, 2010.

(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.”

Email: akewish@deseretnews.com

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1. wrz
Phoenix, AZ,
Aug. 11, 2014

Sorry about the tragedy and loss.

Advice to drivers... when backing out of a driveway always, ALWAYS check behind your vehicle first. Make a habit of walking around it before getting in and starting the motor.. and then back slowly.

2. InspectorC
Wasatch Front, UT,
Aug. 12, 2014

Similar incident--- but not *nearly* the tragic consequences:

Several years ago (before we had back-up cameras) I was out in our garage for awhile, then got in my SUV, opened the overhead door and backed down our driveway... WITHOUT CHECKING BEHIND my vehicle.

What I didn't know was that --during the time I was in the garage-- a visitor had come to our door and had parked BEHIND my SUV.

I carelessly backed out and crashed into their vehicle (because I couldn't see it in my rearview mirror due to the slope of my driveway and it being dark), causing quite a bit of damage.

Since that incident, I ALWAYS take TWO extra seconds (that's ALL it really takes-- JUST TWO SECONDS!!!) to step to the back of my vehicle and verify all is safe!

Our deepest sympathies to the Hamblin family and their grieving friends & community.