Traffic accident claims life of 2 Cypress family members
Radiant smiles are crystallized in many a snapshot capturing the Brown family's tender moments over the years.
In one photo, on a sunny day by the ocean, Jeremy Brown wraps his arms around his mother Pam while resting his head on her shoulder. In another, the teenager's older brother, Josh, leans his head against his father Mike's as the family of four enjoys an outing.
All that's left are memories.
As the Cypress family was in Florida on its way home from a spring break cruise, a March 19 freeway accident killed Jeremy and his mother and critically injured his father.
Josh Brown, 15, who has a learner's permit, was driving the family's sports utility vehicle when it drifted onto the Interstate 10 median near the Sneads exit in Jackson County, according to Lt. Steve Preston of the Florida Highway Patrol. Brown overcorrected the steering, causing the vehicle to overturn several times, ejecting Jeremy Brown and the parents. The driver was the only one buckled up, according to FHP.
Jeremy Brown, 12, a Moore Elementary sixth-grader, died at the scene. Pam Brown, 45, died March 30 in a Tallahassee, Fla., hospital. Mike Brown, 45, remains hospitalized there for a fractured skull and a broken leg.
Josh Brown was treated for a broken wrist and a laceration on his head and returned to Cypress Creek High School four days after the accident.
Pam Brown's organs were donated to six people after relatives agreed to remove life support when doctors decided there was no hope for recovery, according to Kathy Brown, Mike Brown's sister and a family spokesperson.
Outpouring of support
In the wake of the tragedy, support poured in from friends, neighbors, co-workers and many people the Browns never knew. It was as if the world converged at the family's doorstep, Kathy Brown said.
As of April 5, more than 600 people had left prayers and words of comfort in a guestbook on a webpage Kathy Brown set up to provide updates on Mike Brown's recovery and the family. The page had been visited nearly 30,000 times.
"I am at a loss for words. My prayers haven't stopped, nor will they," Donna Callan wrote in the guestbook.
Shellye Arnold, Pam's former classmate and co-worker, posted: "Pam, may you soar as an angel with your sweet son in your arms. May you both be wrapped in love and light, and may your love shine down on Mike and Josh."
Donations have been made to a fund established to help pay the medical bills. People can donate to the "Mike & Pam Brown Donation Account" at any Wells Fargo in the United States.
People also may send a check made out to the "Mike & Pam Brown Donation Account" to Russell Clingman, 3107 Oakmont Drive, Sugar Land, Texas 77479.
To get updated on Mike Brown's condition, visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/mikeandpambrown after signing up for a visitor account with your e-mail address.
Brett Searcy, a Fairfield subdivision resident returning home from Disney World in Florida with his family, was traveling about 20 cars behind the Browns' vehicle when the wreck happened.
When he came back to Houston, he learned that the family in the accident also was from Cypress and said, "When something so tragic hits home so close, it's unbelievable. It affects the entire community of Cypress," he said.
At Moore Elementary, pupils wore green, Jeremy Brown's favorite color, for a day last week, and the school bus will have a seat left empty for the remainder of the school year in memory of the youngster.
Beth Smith, the Browns' former neighbor in the North Chester subdivision, has fond memories of him. "When he walked in, he'd light up the room like no kid I've ever known."
On March 31, school bus driver Erika Davis planned a get-together for Jeremy's friends to raise funds for the family.
The Hewlett-Packard Co., the couple's employer, held a prayer service for them at a Cypress church while its employees, including those based overseas, sent messages of sympathy and encouragement for the family on the website created by Kathy Brown.
"I've been completely overwhelmed by the love from people, even total strangers," she said. "You just sit and cry reading all these e-mails."
Meals for body and soul
While relatives have been taking turns to stay with Josh Brown in the family's house in the Tuscany subdivision, Smith quietly took on a mission to coordinate a schedule for people to bring meals every other day.
Through a website, friends and strangers signed up for their days of meal donation, which has run through the end of May.
"Josh likes vanilla Coke, Sunny D, powdered doughnuts … and basically all foods that teenage boys eat," Smith reminded contributors on the website. "He does not like peas, salad or Brussels sprouts."
Smith said she was touched by the responses to her meal plea. "It renewed our faith in the community, even when we see a broken nation," she said.
The neighborhood homeowners association also added the Browns' lawn to the association's contracted landscape maintenance job, said Connie Broome, the Browns' Tuscany neighbor.
To help deflect the costs for relatives who take turns to travel to Tallahassee to visit Mike Brown in the hospital, Broome, a former regional manager for the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery chain, has called companies every day to solicit donation of meal coupons and cards for the relatives to use in Tallahassee.
"I'm thrilled at how much people have rallied around this considering they don't have any connection to the family and restaurants in Tallahassee," she said.
Pam and Mike were sweethearts when they attended Westchester High School in Houston. Three years after she graduated from the University of Houston, they married in 1991. Both ended up working for Hewlett-Packard, with she as a financial analyst and he as a member of a laptop research team.
On Westchester's alumni Web page, Pam Brown described the couple's love of skiing, tennis doubles, water sports and vacationing in Mexico and on the Gulf of Mexico.
Local Advertising by PaperG