Keenan’s family joins campaign
He loved blasting music on his headphones, but unfortunately for Keenan Matthes it led to his death.
Keenan, 16, was struck by a train at a level crossing in Ranui on April 20. He was on his morning run with music blaring in both ears from his headphones – and failed to stop or hear the train coming at the Ranui crossing.
His family don’t wish Keenan’s fate on anyone else.
They’ve joined the One Ear Out campaign which highlights the risk of wearing headphones while walking down a street, crossing the road or a level crossing, and driving a vehicle or cycling.
Keenan’s mum Karamea Matthes said her son would have championed the cause had it been one of his own friends who died. His family now advocated One Ear Out whenever they could and have approached schools and parents - and even stopped people they saw wearing headphones on the streets.
‘‘Everyone talks about selfresponsibility and that’s great. Teach your kids to be safe and watch out for stuff when you cross the road. But one small lapse of concentration; it only takes a second of being distracted and something like what happened to our boy could happen to you.’’
Her husband Presley said they hoped only using one side of headphones when on the road would become a habit to people, ‘‘like wearing a helmet or putting on a seatbelt’’.
Karamea said she was not sure at first if their One Ear Out campaign was honouring Keenan ‘‘in the right way’’ with ‘‘having his face plastered everywhere, because he was a quiet boy’’.
‘‘But when all those people come back and say thank you, it really cements that we are doing the right thing – not just for Keenan but for everybody.’’
She said losing her only son was ‘‘very hard’’.
The day before he died, Keenan had written goals he wanted to accomplish this year. One of them included bettering his rugby career after playing in the Massey High School First XV – and having won the most improved player award the year before.
‘‘[During the] school holidays kids just want to play around and do nothing, but not that boy. He wrote down his goals the night before, what he wanted to do for the year, and that morning he got up to smash those goals and unfortunately this happened.’’
The Matthes family, from left: Keenan’s dad Presley, sister Cecelia, mum Karamea, and sister Kalani.