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Casey and Dave Pease 1973-2001

Memorial By Brian Pease
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For reasons that will become clear, I have chosen to tell you first about Brian, the youngest of my three sons. He could not have experienced a more horrific adolescence, and yet he continues to press on. I am so incredibly proud of him for what he has endured and how he continues to display courage in the face of unimaginable pain.

Brian was born when his oldest brother Dave was 8 and Casey, his middle brother, was 4. His first six years were happy and normal, competing with his brothers and desperately wanting to be older, to be just like them.

My wife and I divorced when Brian was 7 and it sent shock-waves through the rest of the family. Dave was 15 at the time and trying to find himself. He spent most of his remaining teen years looking for answers in a mixture of marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol. His drug use became evident over time and I butted heads with him constantly. In retrospect, I was good at confronting — but not at addressing and solving the root problem.

Dave was bright — extremely bright. We had lived in Holland his first year in school and he was judged to be gifted by the American School in The Hague. He was articulate and a strong debater, and resisted all our attempts to reason with him. I will always regret not having been strong enough to insist that he get help for his substance abuse problem. His mother and I had tried on many occasions but Dave protested vehemently and dug in his heels. We just never fathomed that his need for a buzz would lead him to experiment with heroin.

Dave was now 23 and working in retail and Casey was 19 and attending college at the University of Connecticut and doing well. Casey had just returned home for summer break on Memorial Day weekend of 1997. Having been born in Miami in 1973, while I was business manager for the Miami Dolphins, Dave grew up a big Dolphins and Miami Heat fan. The Heat had just won the NBA Playoffs, and Dave arrived home with a friend and a bottle of rum he had won on the series. They had a drink, toasted the Heat’s accomplishment, and poked fun at Casey for being “Mr. College.”

The phone rang at 4 a.m. the next morning. It was Stamford Hospital and the voice said, “Your son Dave is here and there has been an accident.” She added, “Is there someone who could come with you?”  At that moment, I knew. I woke up Casey and we drove in silence to the emergency room. We were brought to a waiting room where a distraught young couple sat holding hands. They had been with Dave in New York City, and had driven him to the hospital. After about 10 minutes, a nurse arrived and asked me to come with her. As she led me into a nearby room, the hospital chaplain appeared and took my arm. In a split second, my heart, and my life as I knew it, had stopped.

The sight of Dave’s lifeless body was jolting. I wasn’t sure I could or wanted to take another breath. As a practicing Catholic, I instinctively whispered the Act of Contrition in his ear, asking God to accept it as if it were coming from Dave himself.

The hours and days that followed are still a blur. I learned Dave’s friends had driven him around for hours before seeking help. They had been at a bar in the city and claimed Dave returned from a trip to the men’s room saying he had just done some “stuff”, felt weird, and then collapsed on the floor. They were afraid of getting themselves or Dave in trouble, so they carried him to their car and drove him back to Connecticut. These were wasted, precious minutes that likely would have saved his life had they acted more responsibly and sought medical help immediately.

Brian took Dave’s death particularly hard. They had gotten very close the previous year, playing guitar together, talking about music and rooting for the Dolphins. Casey stepped in and played a major role helping Brian get back on his feet.

Two years later in 1999, Casey graduated from UCONN as a New England Scholar and began a career as a computer consultant. In June of 2001 he hosted Brian and me to a Father’s Day lunch. He had recently been hired full time by one of his clients and he felt flush and wanted to celebrate. I rejoiced in the role model he was becoming for Brian.

On Sept 9 of 2001, Casey and a dozen of his friends rented a van and a driver to go into New York to celebrate his 24th birthday. At approximately 8 a.m. the next morning, the Wilton police came to the house to tell us there had been an accident, and that Casey was in critical condition.

Brian could not bear the sight of seeing Casey so banged up. He sat in the waiting room and was comforted by Casey’s friends, as word of the accident spread. It was then that we got some of the details: The van had returned to Connecticut in the wee hours and while most everyone slept, Casey sat up front and kept the driver company. When they arrived at the drop-off point in Stamford, again most everyone chose to sleep there. Casey decided he preferred to sleep in his own bed and left to drive home — he never made it.

Casey had fallen asleep at the wheel, impaired from a night of binge drinking. He hit a tree and snapped a telephone pole that fell on his car. He was not wearing his seat belt. He had massive head injuries and two broken legs and. The report from the neurologist was grim. The extensive head trauma and swelling had pushed Casey’s brain down into his brain stem, cutting off the flow of oxygen. They could not control the swelling and the damage was complete and irreversible.

Removing Casey from life support was a decision no parent should have to make, but I knew he would not have wanted to exist in a vegetative state. Casey died the morning of Sept 10th in our arms. The following morning, Sept 11, 2001, his mother and I were at the funeral home making arrangements when the World Trade Center was attacked. Within the hour, the rest of the world joined us in shock and disbelief.

It’s been five years now since Casey’s passing. A poem I wrote to him back then completes the rest of his story, a harbinger of an involvement that will occupy me for the rest of my days.

This Shattered Space
Casey, my sweet Casey
Did you hear me whispering?
“It’s okay to let go
…we’re here, we love you.”
Within minutes you did
…my god, you did!
I wasn’t ready
I’m still not.
From deep within you found a way
First a finger, then an arm
Shouting out without a voice
Your bracing shoulders your only choice.
Years and years before your prime
Rising up one final time.
Gone from our midst but not our hearts
My world changed that last exchange.
The World Trade Center still intact and well
In 24 hours, a living Hell.
Like you, gleaming, young and strong
A source of pride soon nullified.
As I struggle to engage
To live and work this embattled stage
I pledge to you and all that matters
To rise up in reply, your memory my staunch ally.
To ride the wave your life evoked
Counseling others to stretch their stride,
To enter each race and room with a smile
And with dignity and grace, enliven this shattered space.
Brian graduated this past December from Nova Southeastern University (where the Dolphins have their training camp) with a degree in psychology. I have been making good on my promise to Casey under the banner of Get a G.R.I.P America (inspiring Greater Responsibility In Parenthood), speaking to parent forums across the country exhorting them to learn from my mistakes and to:

• Get a grip on the “cloak of denial”
• Get a grip on the need for their active, personal involvement in the life of their teenager
• Get a grip on the signs of a drug problem
• Get a grip on the real battle underway
• Get a grip on the “developmental assets”
• Get a grip on the job description of a parent and the duration of the assignment.

Life is still a day-to-day affair, and I have yet to not cringe when the phone rings at an off hour. But thankfully, Brian is moving forward, and so must I.

Family

Brian, Dave and Casey Pease

Dave Pease

Dave Pease

Casey Pease

Casey Pease

Family

Favorites

  • Movie
  • Sports Team
    Dave: Miami Heat; Casey: Miami Dolphins
  • Music/Band
  • Activity/Hobby
    Dave: Playing the guitar; Casey: golf
  • TV Show
    Dave: "Martin" and "The Simpsons"; Dave: "ESPN"
Categories / Other Drugs

18 Responses to this article

  1. Gwen Karas Comatis / May 29, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Mr Pease- I am deeply sorry for your tremendous losses. You may or may not remember me as I lived in Shippan and was often at The Sullivan’s next door. I remember your boys so young and sweet playing in the yard. Two precious lives ended way too soon. My own brother battled drugs and alcohol, thankfully he won and is an amazing brother, father, Uncle and business owner(He took over my father’s business of carpets and flooring). As a dispatcher of Police, Fire and EMS I see too much of both drug and alcohol abuse, even our tiny island of Nantucket has a big problem with both. Thank you for sharing your story- sending you and Brian much love and strength to get through each and every day

  2. Michael Dube / May 29, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Mr. Pease, I don’t know if you remember me but Dave and I were the 1-2 punch as pitchers on pal (our little league team). I am sorry for what your family has had to endure but I wanted to know that I look back to those little league days with such fond memories. Dave and I were buds back then and we always picked each other up if we weren’t pitching well. It’s still sad but ty for sharing your story to the world. Hopefully it will help others. With much respect, Michael Dube.

  3. Brooke sclafani / May 29, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    To all of the family,
    Thank you for sharing this story. I love all 3 of your boys and im so very proud of Brian. 17 years ago when I saw dave being buried I chose to never touch a drug again. His death as well as Casey’s gave impacted me in a way I can’t explain. I will continue to pray for you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking such tragic events and making something positive. With love,
    Brooke Sclafani

  4. Avatar of rasheemcoleman
    rasheemcoleman / November 19, 2008 at 3:11 am

    Years have passed since I was last in your living room with all of your boys. I enjoyed my time with Dave so much. We didn't maintain a close friendship when I went off to college as our paths were diverging. The loss of Dave was devastating and only multiplied when I learned about Casey. I always carry your family in my heart. I am now a therapist working with children and their families. I admire your immense strength and passion in the work you've employed to educate parents.

    Liz Markey

  5. Avatar of LoriChissie
    LoriChissie / May 28, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Mr. Pease, your story will continue to inspire all of us out here. As a childhood friend of Casey and fellow Westhill Graduate, his memory lives on through all of us and we miss him dearly. Even after all these years I still wish you comfort through the special moments only you and your sons shared.

  6. Avatar of LoriChissie
    LoriChissie / April 6, 2008 at 1:49 am

    This is my ending.
    Somehow it must become my beginning as well although that is hard to see.
    Outside the sky is crying…
    But all of the tears of the sky
    Do not compare to the ones inside of me.
    I remember lying in bed pregnant with my first-born son,
    Hands on my belly feeling the moving and squirming,
    I was in awe of this miracle inside of me.
    Selfish in my desire to keep him there where he was all mine
    And needed only me.
    I knew I could take care of him then.
    I felt cheated when he c

  7. Avatar of yvettejasongodfreysmom
    yvettejasongodfreysmom / April 6, 2008 at 1:47 am

    For those first moments each day when I open my eyes,
    Before I am fully awake, I am thankful…
    Those moments before I remember that my life will never be the same.
    Those moments when I think I need to call Jake…
    And even as I remember I still pick up the phone,
    Just to hear his voice again,
    Then in the semi darkness, I roll over and close my eyes,
    Wishing it would all go away,
    That I could have a do over,
    A second chance to have a different ending…
    But there is no different ending.
    Th

  8. Avatar of LoriChissie
    LoriChissie / April 6, 2008 at 1:46 am

    For those first moments each day when I open my eyes,
    Before I am fully awake, I am thankful…
    Those moments before I remember that my life will never be the same.
    Those moments when I think I need to call Jake…
    And even as I remember I still pick up the phone,
    Just to hear his voice again,
    Then in the semi darkness, I roll over and close my eyes,
    Wishing it would all go away,
    That I could have a do over,
    A second chance to have a different ending…
    But there is no different ending.
    Th

  9. Avatar of LoriChissie
    LoriChissie / April 6, 2008 at 12:42 am

    I lost my barely 20 year old son less than a month ago to a drug overdose. So much of my story is your story. I am compelled to do do something to help save other kids…something good must come out of this in order to survive this most devastating loss. I wrote this the other day trying to make sense of all of this.

    For those first moments each day when I open my eyes,
    Before I am fully awake, I am thankful…
    Those moments before I remember that my life will never be the same.
    Those moment

  10. Avatar of christinesimmons
    christinesimmons / March 10, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. I have three sons and can not ever imagine losing another. My heart goes out to you. May god bless you and keep you all safe.

    yvette

  11. Avatar of newlandcampbell
    newlandcampbell / April 10, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Thank you for your willingness to be honest and share this very painful experience. I have three teenagers; 18,16,14. I pray everyday that they come home from school, sports, outings etc. I am going to print this story out and put it on each of their beds. Every grey hair I have on my head is because I have been willing to confront. It has been hard and they have hated me at times. I appreciate your ability to tell your story. Thank you so much. You are a strong man.

  12. Avatar of annwashburn
    annwashburn / February 28, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Dear Mr. Pease,
    I was 13 when the first of my friends died because of drugs or alcohol. You lost two sons, something you and your wife never should have to had lived through. While our country was in mourning, you lost a second child. Please do not blame yourself. As a parent, your living son can see how good you are. Be strong, and know Casey and Dave don't want you to be sad on this earth. They are in Heaven and Brian is lucky to have you as a father.

  13. Avatar of kathyk
    kathyk / December 4, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    I have been working in the Drug/Alcohol field for 30 years and have been sober for 25 years. I grew up with this terrible disease, and also have a 15 year old son who I pray will live through the teenage years. Your story touched me deeply and I respect your sharing. One's story can help so many. God bless you and your family. Ann

  14. Avatar of pamhearn
    pamhearn / November 4, 2006 at 9:20 am

    {{{Hugs}}} to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story. I can only hope that life is a bit better for you after all the sorrow you have gone through.
    Thoughts and prayers to you.

    http://www.drugfree.org/Memorials/Josh_Pelick

  15. Avatar of marydeboer2
    marydeboer2 / October 20, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    I am so very sorry for your loss. You must be a very strong man. I have four sons, and after reading this I thank God that I have them. I can not even begin to imagine your pain. Thank you for sharing it with everyone.

  16. Avatar of loisvanderzanden
    loisvanderzanden / October 18, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    We met in Washington DC this year.Our son Matt died of a Herion overdose. It was very nice speaking with you and my daughter talked with your son Brian. Could you e-mail me. She would like to talk to Brian again but I dont know how to reach you.. Thanks
    e-mail marydeboer11@yahoo.com

  17. Avatar of maureenmurphy
    maureenmurphy / September 28, 2006 at 2:30 am

    I am so so sorry for your loss. I lost a son to murder in 2004 , but couldnt go though losing another child. You are a strong man keep up the good work
    Lois

  18. Maureen Murphy / September 27, 2006 at 5:31 pm

    This is one of the saddest stories I've read. Losing one child is devastation enough but then another. I can't imagine the pain and sense of loss you are feeling. Please accept my deepest sympathy and I will keep you in my prayers. God Bless.

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