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‘Tragic waste of life’ — Family of boy killed wants driver, 14, charged

Posted at 11:24 PM, Dec 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-07 10:56:06-05

RAVENNA TOWNSHIP, Mich. — What should be a joyous time of year has turned tragic for the family of a 10-year-old boy killed in a car crash last week at the hands of his 14-year-old friend who was driving.

Family members of the victim tell FOX 17 they hope the teen driver is held responsible.

Jeffrey Jennings, 10, died Thursday night after the driver lost control of the SUV and crashed into a tree on Ensley Road in Ravenna Township.

The crash happened three miles from home, according to family.

The two boys were friends, and Jennings' family said it's a senseless tragedy that should have never happened.

Rachel Wilson, the victim's mother, said she believes the driver found a spare set of keys to the vehicle in a drawer. The SUV was parked in a barn used for the winter season and was taken without permission.

"We know there has to be a consequence legally, we know that," Wilson told FOX 17 over the phone Saturday. "We know there has to be a lesson learned for this boy, if there’s not it’s not going to be good for him either.

Wilson said she still loves the family of the teen driver, adding she was relieved she survived the crash.

"I wouldn’t ask him to trade places with my son," she said. "I want him to go on with life and do the best that he can with it."

Mark Heuizenga, the victim's grandfather, said the 14-year-old driver was thrown from the vehicle and broke his knee cap. Jennings was in the front seat and died on impact.

With Christmas coming soon, Heuizenga said it hurts knowing the family won't ever be able to spend another holiday with Jennings.

"His step dad had bought him a dirt bike, his first dirt bike for Christmas and unfortunately Jeffrey’s never gonna see that bike," Heuizenga said. "It's a tragic waste of a life and yeah I think the 14-year-old should be held accountable."

Wilson said her family is close friends with the parents of the driver which makes facing their child's death even more difficult.

Jeffrey was the brother of four loving sisters, the only boy in his family.

"One minute at a time, fortunately we’re all Christians and we have that to hang on to, that Jeffrey’s in a better place," Heuizenga said.

The Throop Funeral Home of Ravenna is in charge of funeral arrangements. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Jeffrey's parents cover those costs. Donations can also be made through Choice One Bank and anything left over will be donated to a children's charity, the family said.