(Originally published in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, 2 Aug 2009)
Joey Easterling was killed in a motorcycle accident in April, a tragedy that was witnessed by his wife, Cassie, and child.
In a short span recently, we lost Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson — both icons of at least one generation if not more — and then Billy Mays, the pitchman who we all know from hawking OxiClean. And let’s not forget Ed McMahon, Walter Cronkite and the list goes on.
These high-profile deaths always garner heavy press coverage. Recently, however, my co -workers and I endured a loss a lot closer to home, but equally devastating, and equally newsworthy. His name was Joey Easterling. Joey’s story should be told, too. Joey was a very unassuming young man, quiet and diligent in his daily work, never forgetting that family always came first. Confined to his computer at work, he would grab a quick lunch and get right back to it, remaining intently focused. Eventually the phone would ring signaling the close of the day.
“Honey, what time you coming home?” It never had to be said, it was written all over his face: “Yep. She loves me!”
The same was true on a particular Friday in April. Joey would reach many milestones on this weekend. He looked forward to seeing family from out of town, as well as his closest friends. It would be one of the happiest weekends in his life. Neither he, nor anyone else, realized that it would also be his last.
Joey was overjoyed about picking up a motorcycle he had just purchased. The bike was in Mississippi, about 50
miles from his home in Southaven. He and his wife and child excitedly made the drive to retrieve it .
Although stormy weather was approaching, Joey decided he was going to beat it, and decided to ride the bike home.
It was the first and last time Joey would ride it. On the way home, he somehow lost control of the bike and crashed into a guardrail at highway speed. His wife and child were following behind him in the car and witnessed the crash.
We are told that Joey probably went quickly and likely didn’t feel a thing. One can only hope that was the case.
The following week was difficult for all of his co – workers. The “seal” of his cubicle had not been broken since Joey left on that Friday afternoon. Joey’s father-in-law had phoned one of the guys to help put together some items for his memorial.