Keenan’s fam­ily joins cam­paign

Western Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - TORIKA TOKALAU

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.’’

TORIKA TOKALAU/STUFF

The Matthes fam­ily, from left: Keenan’s dad Pres­ley, sis­ter Ce­celia, mum Karamea, and sis­ter Kalani.

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