One week ago as a 54-year-old woman, driving with a suspended license, sped through the intersection of 347 and 112 in Suffolk County, Long Island; she struck and killed my brother Brad Packer. My brother Brad, who seemed indestructible to those who knew him, was killed by Janice Montalvo, who then fled the scene. Hit and run accidents are a serious problem on Long Island. And while accidents can happen, the fact she left him in the street to die, is unconscionable and cowardly. Of course, from her point of view it probably seemed to be the best option as she had been fined twice previously; $250 each time, for speeding, resulting in the suspension of her license. Following the collision with my brother, she stopped at a local grocery to buy soda. Fortunately, due to excellent police work, she was apprehended within 24 hours. A small but important consolation. The call to my wife’s cell phone at a little before one in the morning has changed my family forever. My wife and I had to identify my brother the next morning. We had to break the news to my sister and her family as well as my parents. It was a horrific task. Due to the criminal investigation, which required an autopsy, we could not bury him immediately as is the custom in Judaism.
After the initial shock, we quickly realized how many people had either read about or watched the story of my brother’s passing. What disturbed us, was the fact that the media had printed my brother’s name prior to our positive identification of his body at the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office. How did that happen and who was the callous and insensitive fool, so eager for a story that he or she disregarded any accepted standards of decency? My parents had not yet been told and we didn’t want them reading about it or worse, receiving a phone call from someone who’d already heard the news, offering condolences for a son they believed to be alive and well.
But I am not writing this to tell the story of my brother Brad’s death, I want to write about his life. My brother, who worked out with weights from his early teens to the present, could still bench press 300 lbs even at the age of 51. He was a talented artist, musician, nurse and fitness buff. He was a son, brother, uncle and boyfriend. He was a human being who was larger than life and his presence will be missed. What is so strange about this whole tragedy is that I hold no grudge against Montalvo. She will have to live with the fallout, emotional and legal, of what her disturbingly poor judgment visits upon her. Ultimately, there are now only two things that matter. One, that she never again drive a vehicle. This woman must not be permitted the opportunity to hurt or kill anyone else. Vehicular laws and the penalty for breaking them, must be examined and must allow for punishments equal to the crime. Two, the memory of my brother must live on through his family and friends. No one can ever imagine something like this happening until it does. It should never happen to anyone else. In that way my brother’s death will not have been in vain. Bradford Seth Packer – Born April 30, 1962; died July 11, 2013. Rest in Peace Brad.