Jamie Lapierre: His mom's story

Call it a mother's intuition. When Brenda Lapierre answered 'that knock' on her door one February day, she had almost been expecting it. She immediately knew by the look on Andre's face that he was the bearer of bad news and the unthinkable had happened.

Brenda's son Jamie Lapierre, was a 21-year-old deckhand who died while working on a barge in February, 2000. On the day he died, Jamie was assigned basic maintenance duties in the hold of the barge. Jamie did not complete his task. While the rest of his shift crew was on break, they noticed Jamie was missing. They discovered him in the hold. The first rescue attempt nearly proved fatal too- his rescuer lost consciousness almost immediately and needed rescuing himself. Later, it was determined that Jamie's death was caused by the amount of rust in the hold which led to a lack of oxygen.

Jamie lived at home, drove a yellow Mustang, and enjoyed spending time with his friends and girlfriend. Jamie was adored by his parents and siblings and as the baby of the family, often charmed his way out of whatever playful trouble he found himself in. He was just an easy-going and kind-hearted guy who would have done anything for his friends and family.

One Christmas, when Jamie was 16, he wasn't able to afford a Christmas gift for his mother. So instead, he wrote her a letter. It was his greatest gift to Brenda and explained how she meant the world to him and that he loved her very much. Jamie's letter has become one of Brenda's most treasured possessions, and she reads it whenever she wants to feel close to her son.

Jamie's death created an enormous void in the lives of those who knew and loved him. His family have become involved with Threads of Life, a national family support network. Through the organization's Speakers' Bureau, Brenda and Jamie's sister Karen look for opportunities to share Jamie's story in the hope that the tragedy that took him is never forgotten or repeated.