Twin siblings have an inexplicable bond that is special in many ways. From sharing birth to life milestones their unique relationship forms as they grow up. For Ryan and Brandon Lucero, identical 16-month-old twins, this bond was cut short when a drugged driver decided to get behind the wheel and kill Brandon in a crash almost eight years ago.
Mary and Richard Woodward were looking forward to getting off work and spending time with their great-grandchildren, Brandon and Ryan. They couldn’t wait for 5:00 o’clock to take them to one of their favorite grocery stores. They had their routine down and would seat Brandon and Ryan on the grocery cart side to side while they shopped around and the boys explored everything and anything that they could get their hands on.
Mr. Woodward had just picked up the children and was driving through a residential neighborhood when a driver high on methamphetamines and Ambien hit their vehicle at a high speed and caused a multiple car crash. Mr. Woodward’s vehicle was impacted the most and baby Brandon died at the scene of the crash. Though EMTs resuscitated Brandon and put him on life support while transporting him to the hospital, he never woke up. Mr. Woodward received multiple injuries and was unable to return to work. Ryan, at 16 months old, had to wear a body cast for three months to recover from his femur fracture. The other driver, was prosecuted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for vehicular homicide, child abuse, and assault causing bodily injury.
Though Mr. Woodward and Ryan almost fully recovered from their injuries, the grief and heartache that the family lives through every day from the loss of Brandon is immeasurable. Ryan, who is now nine, grew up without his twin brother and continues to receive counseling to try to understand his loss. Mr. Woodward experiences survivor’s guilt due to the crash happening while the kids were in his care. He lives with fear that something may happen to Ryan.
The Woodwards embrace Ryan and continue to be so proud of the amazing, resilient, and talented child that he is, but a piece of their heart will forever be missing. They never forget that someone’s choice to drive while under the influence took Brandon away from them. “There is a phrase that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but that is incorrect. It may not kill you but it takes a big piece of your heart,” Mr. Woodward explained “It is about finding our new normal and honoring Brandon’s life.”
In Honor of Brandon’s Life
Ms. Woodward remembers Brandon as a very friendly and kind hearted baby—he loved watching butterflies, and being outside. He was curious about everything in nature and loved touching leaves. Brandon’s loved ones choose to remember him as the happy baby that he was and volunteer with MADD in his honor. Mr. Woodward has been speaking a MADD Victim Impact Panels for five years. Though continuing to relive his pain can be overwhelming at times he believes that there is a plan for him. When panel participants reach out to him and thank him for inspiring them to stop driving under the influence he knows that he is making a difference and supporting MADD’s mission to fight drugged driving.