Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Your phone is not worth it

My name is Mike Weibel and I am the step-father of Max Kelly. Some of you may have read the blog that I wrote and was published Sept. 9, 2017, in last year’s safety blog series.

Max was a distracted driver who was involved in a very serious wreck. He was tweeting at the time and rear ended a KDOT snow plow while driving between 75 to 80 miles an hour. His last tweet was at the exact time 911 was called. My past blog told of how his wreck has altered everyone’s lives. I would like to tell our current story of what it is like to live with someone who is addicted to electronics.
Max’s addiction caused him to have a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Currently it is very hard to look at him knowing what type of future he could have had and now looking at him knowing he will never be the same. His mother, Nicole, states, “how do you mourn someone knowing what he could have had in his life.”
Max came home last September. He was in a wheelchair. Our friends raised money for us to re-configure our house to accommodate his disability. This changed the way of life within our household forever.
At first, we had to care for him as if he was an infant. We had to assist him with his way of life, such as helping him into the shower and cutting up his solid food so he could swallow. The number of pills that he must take daily is overwhelming. At times, he can’t remember if he took them or not.
Nicole’s time at the beginning was spent caring for Max and spending at least 2-3 hours a day on the phone with agencies like Kansas Care. Since I work full time and Nicole runs the family business, we still must work for insurance and income. Nicole had to set up care for Max. His therapists are working with him daily so he can gradually fit back into society. He has physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and around the clock monitoring. His therapies are at our home, so we have new people in and out of our home daily. He sees two phycologists to address his behavior. Re-entering into society is going to be hard not only for Max, but also our family.
The TBI has altered Max’s life forever. He is very smart, but he doesn’t know how to get it out of his brain. Max doesn’t realize how bad his injury is. His brain has to re-wire itself to relearning how to talk, swallow, walk, go to the bathroom and every day routines. He is walking with a limp due to having a stroke from the 45-minute extrication from the truck. He has trouble with the simple daily task - like what food is hot and what food is cold when cooking.
Nicole is his legal guardian who handles all his needs. If it wasn’t for Nicole, Max would be in assisted living housing. There are times that Nicole and I have been so stressed out from his behavior - it is hard for our household tending to his daily needs. With me traveling 30-plus times a year and Nicole trying to run a full time catering business, it takes a huge toll on our family.
When I see someone driving down the road texting or answering emails on the phone, it makes me wonder if they think it is worth it. Our family will always tell a story how distracted driving can change not only Max’s life, but everyone’s lives. Your phone is not worth it - just ask Max.

 Mike Weibel is Max’s step-father and is from Topeka.


  1. Thank you Mike for sharing this portion of Max's story. The initial crash is already difficult to deal with, but challenges still continue. Hopefully your message can inspire others to take driving seriously and not be distracted when behind the wheel.

  2. Thank you for sharing about what happened in the year after the crash. So many families have to deal with things for a long time following the initial incident.

  3. Mike, thanks for sharing your story - distracted driving is an epidemic and the tragedies that result have wide spread impact. So many forget about those associated with the victim whose lives will be forever different.