Voices of Victims: Ethan Rubenzer

Patti Rubenzer of Spartanburg County shared her victim impact statement with us that she delivered at the sentencing of the man who took her son’s life.

Feb 8th we lost everything we knew. Our beloved Ethan, our family as we knew it, and the sense of security we thought we had. I am so profoundly sorry and saddened to all of the parents of those who knew and loved Ethan. His loss is bigger than any words can say. I’m so sorry, parents, that you had to explain to your child that their friend was gone. Killed on his way to school. A piece of their childhood is gone. They all grew up in an instant.

No parent should go through what we have and feel the loss that is so deep it hurts so deeply at the core of your being. No parent should have to:

  • Hear that the C0/C1 break was so bad that it was the worst one the doctor had seen in 28 years.
  • Write an obituary for your child from your hospital bed.
  • Hold your remaining daughter as she sobs and realizes she is alone.
  • Wait 48 hours for doctors to declare your son deceased.
  • Get a visit from the coroner who says they have to perform an autopsy.
  • Watch hospital doctors and staff cry, as they wear pink, held candles, and paid tribute to your son, a hero for donating his organs to save others.

Ethan was a hero. And not just at the end of his 4,373 days that he was on this earth. He was an advocate for all and loved life with all of his being.

There are so many milestones we will miss. Too many to state here, but there a few that come to mind:

  • Every meal, an empty seat is there.
  • Every trip, his presence is missed.
  • Him waving to me from the window above the garage when we came home/went.
  • Being there as his sister’s biggest supporter.
  • Being the best man in his best friend Will’s wedding, as this is something they discussed at the age of 8.

Instead, we have a death certificate that says homicide as the cause of death and a box that holds his remains. A box that his father and sister cradled and sobbed over. An image I can’t get out of my mind. So many images.

According to the World Bank, Ethan’s life expectancy was 78. That means 66 years were robbed of him. 24,090 days. Gone. And all he was doing was going to school. No child should die, ever. Especially not that way.

The offender will spend 40 years in prison for Felony Driving Under the Influence and distribution of fentanyl.

Ethan Rubenzer will always be remembered for his kind and generous heart that would drain his lunch account to buy food for children who couldn’t afford to eat. He loved the color pink and the song Bohemian Rhapsody.