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Teen killed in crash was a 'gentle giant,' says family

Posted at 11:27 PM, Nov 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-08 00:30:13-05

The family of the 18-year-old teen killed in Friday’s crash in North Omaha says they hope their tragic loss serves as a reminder to never drink and drive.

Jason Hald, a Senior at Northwest High School was in the back seat of a friend’s car, who police say was drunk and ran a stop light at Sorensen Parkway and Wenninghoff Road, not even a block away from his dad’s house. The friend slammed into the side of a pickup truck, killing Hald. Both the driver and another passenger were taken to the hospital in serious condition.

“I want to wake up from this nightmare. It’s like I’m still dreaming,” says Hald’s mom, Keri Deforest. “I want him to come home through that door. I want to text him. I want to call him.”

Deforest says the two friends had just picked him from his dad’s house, a few houses away from the scene of the crash. They were on their way to a friend’s house.

“He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” says Deforest.

Hald’s stepdad drove past the accident on his way home. He mentioned the accident to Hald’s mom, who says she instantly knew something was wrong.

“Right after he told me about the accident, I started going online and looking at the news. I called and text him several times to see if I could get a hold of him,” says Deforest. “I just knew it was was Jason.”

Hald’s mom says they had just exchanged texts around 7p.m., about an hour and a half before the crash. She says their last conversation was about video games, something Hald was very interested in.

“The last call I put out to his phone was around 11:15 that night. Then the sheriff answered and I said, no, don’t you do this to me. Don’t do this,” says Deforest.

Now, days after the crash, Deforest recalls on her son, who she says was a ‘gentle giant.’

“He was a great kid. A gentle giant. He looked like he would be mean but he was a big teddy bear you just wanted to hug. He was a big boy but had a big heart. He could be a friend to anyone he met, just by his smile,” says Deforest.

Hald’s brother and stepdad say he was very good at computers, a hard worker, and a “goofball.” They say he was a good brother and very attached to his younger siblings.

Deforest also says many of his friends have reached out to her, sharing stories of Hald and the random acts of kindness he did for his peers.

“He touched a lot of lives. It’s obvious to see by the support and outreach we’ve received. And that’s more than I could even imagine that he did.”

Jason Hald’s funeral will be held Wednesday with a candlelight vigil set for Saturday.

A family friend has set up a GoFundMe page to help fund Hald’s memorial services.

Charges against the driver are still pending, as the investigation is still ongoing.