WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (WFLA)– For the Harshman family, it just doesn’t seem possible.
They just saw their son, Jaret, Wednesday afternoon. He was bright-eyed, full of energy and promise, his entire future ahead of him. Jaret was only 15 years old.
For the teenager and his buddies, it was supposed to be a routine Wednesday. They stopped at McDonald’s, his favorite place to eat according to his mother, and then they were off to bible study at Brooksville Christian Church, where Jaret’s father was a pastor. The three boys traveled the familiar route from Wesley Chapel to Brooksville. It was a path they knew well.
“So, it was any ordinary night,” Pastor Mike Harshman explained. “Three boys went out to McDonald’s and said, ‘Okay, we’ll meet you up there.’ Well, they left a little bit earlier, so I was about 20 minutes behind them.”
Sadly, the pastor and father of four would never see his precious son alive again.
Shortly after the boys left, Mike got a phone call. It is the call that every parent dreads. His son’s best friend was hysterical on the other end of the phone. The young man was so upset that Jaret’s father could barely understand him. There was an accident, the teen explained, and it was bad.
Pastor Harshman got to the accident scene and will never forget what he saw – a crushed, mangled car resting on the side of the highway. His son’s condition was so dire, so grave that he was no longer there. He had already been airlifted to the hospital.
The pastor’s concerns quickly turned to the well-being of his son’s friends. One was able to walk, while the other was being treated by paramedics, before being rushed to Bayonet Point Hospital. Jaret’s father was communicating with his wife, as he tried to get to the hospital as quickly as he could. It was there he faced his worst fears.
“I had to go in and then identify him. and, it was it was so rough, he was in such bad shape, I didn’t recognize him. They showed me his clothes. He had a mole on his chin. That was the one mark I knew it was him,’ the pastor said.
He will never forget seeing his young son lying in a hospital bed. He gathered his family, and they prayed over Jaret’s body.
“We huddled the kids around and then we all had prayer. It was just so hard, what do you pray for? Do you pray for him to get well? There’s a reality you have to face. So, I think it was, from the time he got there, two hours later, there’s nothing they can do.”
The family tells News Channel 8 they are humbled and amazed by all the love and support from Jaret’s friends and family.
“We had no idea he impacted so many lives. He was a special kid,” said his mother.
Jaret chose to be an organ donor when he got his permit. His parents’ hearts are filled with emotion and hope as they think about the life their son offered to others in his death.
“He will live on,” said Jaret’s father. “This was an accident. We know that. We love those other two boys like our own. An accident can happen to anyone. They were wearing their seatbelts.”
“It’s just surreal. We keep thinking he will walk through the door any minute.”
Jaret would have turned 16 on December 28th.
A tribute will be held for Jaret Harshman on Friday, December 11th at Wesley Chapel High School where the teenager was a sophomore. The young athlete also excelled on the cross country team. In his honor, family and friends will gather on the high school track.