Andrew Thomas Moncheck was born June 20, 1996. The second child of three and first born son in the Moncheck family. As a baby, he would make you laugh and smile before he could even talk. Before we knew it, he was running around and picked up any kind of a ball he could find, football, baseball, basketball. He was all boy! Loved sports and even wore holes in the knees of a pair of “football pants” from a replica Carolina Panthers football uniform. He wore those things EVERY day and EVERYWHERE. I even had to sneak just to wash them! As Andrew grew, which didn’t seem fast, as he was always one of the smallest kids on any team, but that never bothered him one bit because he had such a big heart. He was always more social in school than he should have been because he had so many friends both on and off the field. He mainly played baseball and football and also wrestled a couple of years. His dad coached his teams in baseball from T-Ball until he was 11 years old. The years that followed, he played travel baseball. Andrew was a naturally talented athlete and sports were his passion all of his life. He was such a fast runner and could track a fly ball with no problem, he was an awesome center fielder! Once baseball was over he went right into football season. He played youth football from 6 years old through high school. Andrew mostly played running back because of his speed and always wore jersey #32, that of the legendary Jim Brown. He really seemed to love football more than baseball. Again, he was certainly never the biggest kid on the field but he continually played with a huge heart and he loved the contact. He seemed to thrive on pressure in both sports. He always had a competitive spirit both on and off the field! Whether it was shooting hoops with his dad and his brother Aaron in our back yard or when he played rec basketball for fun, he was just a ham out on the court. Playing baseball, when he was up to bat, if there were two outs and runners on base, he wanted to bring those runs home. And you can be sure Andrew would steal a base or two even when he wasn’t signaled to! The same goes for football – If we were winning and had to run out the clock, he wanted to be the one with the football to get the first down. He was just that kind of kid; he gave it all or nothing… never anywhere in between.
Andrew graduated from Stow-Munroe Falls High School May 26, 2014. He didn’t have immediate plans after high school, as he was just ready as could be to get the heck out of high school! He couldn’t wait to enjoy his summer. He loved to work out at the gym, hang out with friends and worked for Stow Youth Baseball setting up fields for games and landscaping. His sister always kept his haircuts fresh, as Andrew always had a style and swag to maintain. He loved looking good and smelling good and listening to music. He had a thing for shoes. Ridiculously expensive shoes! I told him, for that type of lifestyle he needed to go to college because mom and dad were not “footing” the bill for his expensive taste! We did a few local college visits together and he applied to Kent State University, Akron University and Youngstown State University and was accepted. The programs he was interested in were Hospitality Management, Communications and Business. He also talked about becoming a fitness trainer while attending college and then in the same breath would talk about not going to college and trying out for the Cleveland Gladiators Arena Football League. Andrew was a smooth talker, very charming and funny so we truly believed he was going to be in sales or some type of radio talk show host. He definitely had the personality for it! I always joked with him that he was great at arguing too and thought he might even attend law school someday to become a lawyer! He always lived for the day and never really looked too far ahead in the future or worried about the past. He truly lived in the moment.
On Friday, July 11th we were up late cooking and making preparations for Andrew’s high school graduation party that was going to happen the next day, Saturday July 12th. At the last minute, in true Andrew fashion, he decided to let me know via text he was going to a local concert with a couple of friends. We were a little aggravated since there was a lot to do and we needed his help in the morning to set up the tables at the lodge and to decorate. He assured me he would get up to help. I checked on Andrew about midnight asking if they were ok and on their way, it was getting late! About an hour later he responded to my text they were fine and yes, on their way. I fell asleep. Little did I know that would be the last time I would ever hear from my son. About 1:30 am I received the phone call that would change our lives forever….our friend and mother of the boy who was driving called to tell us the boys had been in a car crash, struck from behind by a drunk driver, the car rolled three times and Andrew was ejected. Her son, the driver and the passenger in the back seat were both ok but they were taking Andrew to Akron General Hospital. Sheer panic set in. When we got to the hospital they told us Andrew came in unresponsive, and they were “working on him”. The ER physician indicated he had a traumatic brain injury, which did not sink in right away. Not until they had to take him to surgery right away and remove part of his skull to relieve the pressure so that his brain could have room to swell. Even then, our hope was that he was young, healthy and strong and he would recover. Andrew he was hardly ever sick and never really got hurt. We watched him get tackled on the football field so many times and he would bounce right up! At first, we had no doubt that he would pull through and we would do anything for him to help him recover and to have him with us. Needless to say, we had to cancel the graduation party – family and friends helped to call all the guests, cancel the caterer, the cake at the bakery and the party store balloon order. Even though unconscious, I kept telling Andrew, it was ok…we would get through this and have his party when he wakes up and is feeling better. That day never came either.
After a few days in the hospital, and a few complications, the doctors were finally able to schedule an MRI late Tuesday and we did not get the results until Wednesday morning. The neurologist told us that in addition to the brain trauma, Andrew had suffered strokes on both sides of his brain and over 75% of his brain was dead. There was no way for the live part of his brain to reroute to the parts that were dead. We were told who we knew as Andrew was gone. His entire personality, his ability to make new memories and so much more, had all been shut down. We had a second opinion from another neurologist, but he confirmed everything we were told. There was no hope. The rest of his brain and organs continued to shut down. Those were the hardest words ever spoken to us to hear that our Andrew was dying; there was nothing else they could do. When the nurses removed the tubes, we could see our son’s handsome face (our Dewie). Dewie was his nickname since he was little. We were told it could be minutes, days or weeks, no one knew. When he was off the machines he breathed on his own for one day, 24 hours. Even then, he was such a strong young man and we are so proud of him! Andrew took his last breath on July 19th, 2014. Just one month after his 18th birthday. We went from planning a high school graduation party to planning a funeral in the blink of an eye. Our whole lives shattered and changed because of one man’s irresponsible and reckless decision to drink and drive. After 11 car accidents since 1996, nine of which involved assured clear distance and a 4th DUI offense, the offender is now serving a 5-year sentence in an Ohio prison for aggravated vehicular homicide and a lifetime license suspension. How did this 40-year-old man even have a license? Besides the fact that his father is a prominent divorce attorney in our county and likely had something to do with his enabling, reduced sentences, etc., the laws in the state of Ohio are ridiculous when it comes to DUI/Repeat DUI offenders… The system here FAILED to keep our son safe on Ohio roads! Five years is not nearly enough time for taking a precious life – the life of our beloved son, brother, nephew, grandson and friend- OUR Andrew.
We miss him beyond words every single day and he is always in our hearts and in our thoughts. Our lives will never be the same without him and we will spend a lifetime trying to pick up the pieces and figure out how we go on. Please don’t drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any kind of distraction for that matter. Don’t think for a moment that it can’t or won’t happen to you and put another family through this very situation. NO ONE should ever have to bury their child or any loved one as a result of such a senseless and preventable act.
– Christine Moncheck (Andrew’s Mother)