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Distracted driving death puts Bennington parents on a mission

Faith, Family and a Fatal Mistake
Posted: 10:57 PM, Oct 31, 2017
Updated: 2018-09-09 21:07:08Z

One of Chris Haney's proudest father/son moments: He and Marcus at a 2015 World Series game Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium . Diana Haney clutches one of her favorite pictures of Marcus, from June of 2014. Cap, gown and sneakers to graduation at Omaha Christian Academy.

But that family joy turned to utter tragedy hours before Christmas Eve two years ago.

Marcus was in the front seat, a passenger in an SUV that his friend was driving on 120th, north of Blondo . The 19-year-old driver was speeding, racing another car, when he lost control and slammed into a tree, killing Marcus Haney .

"(Marcus) was so loving, giving, kind," Diana Haney said. "He always fought for the underdog."

Marcus's parents said he wanted to become a police officer, be a positive influence, make a difference in his community. So the Haneys, relying on their strong Christian faith, have now founded an organization in his memory, P4:13 .

"It's Philippians 4:13  — 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,' " Chris Haney said. "Marcus is the reason we're doing what we are doing, and that is providing those scholarships to youth who otherwise couldn't afford to go on a mission trip, a camp, or conference."

Haney said so far, they have raised more than $100,000 and given out 145 scholarships. They've linked up with other nonprofits, including the Abide Network in North Omaha , and this past summer, hosted a football camp together.

D'Angelo Peak, the 19-year-old driver of the SUV that crashed on 120th near Blondo in December 2015, served 98 days in jail for motor vehicle homicide.

The Haneys emphasize that they forgive him. But that compassion comes with a stern warning to other young people about distracted driving.

REVIEW THE DATA: Nebraska DOT distracted driving crash stats (2006-2016)

"It's not worth it," Diana Haney said. "Whether it's having a little fun, speeding a little bit, changing the radio station, checking that quick text. In a quick second, you could be gone or worse, you could be living with killing someone. "

The Haneys urged young people to stay aware when behind the wheel. They know first-hand that just one mistake can change many lives.