Thursday, February 12, 2009

Family Remembers a "Great Son"


By Patricia Adams

An honor guard of NYPD and auxiliary police in addition to more than thirty clergy members, including Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Robert’s uncle Monsignor Sean Ogle, celebrated the funeral mass of 16-year-old Robert Ogle at the Resurrection Ascension Church on Thursday morning.

During the eulogy of his nephew, Monsignor Ogle shared a story which possibly best personified his nephew. “Robert maintained a close relationship with school chums from all his years. Recently he was asked to be on a dodge ball team from a friend at another school. Not only did he accept,” explained the Monsignor, “but Robert had shirts made for the entire team. They were lettered with ‘The Average Joe’s,’ from the popular Dodge Ball movie.”

But on his return from the game when Robert asked how the team did he told his family that everyone thought they were going to be great because of the shirts. “But,” Robert explained, “We were eliminated in the first round. I guess the shirts should have read the “Below Average Joe’s.”

Brendan Ogle described the loss of his son as “someplace where very few people go.” The father of 16-year-old Robert Ogle, killed by a drunk driver last weekend in Middle Village, said his experience is best likened to “something from another dimension. It is a place that I have discovered a lot of friends — people who pray with me and those who just listen when I need to talk.”

Inflection was virtually absent in his voice as he spoke of the boy he had raised with his wife Mei for the last 16 years. “Robert had a way with people. In his short life he [Robert] made many friends. At the schools he attended - Resurrection Ascension, PS 49, Louis Armstrong Middle School, and Brooklyn Technical High School -Robert built relationships with others his father called “buddies.” He maintained them throughout the years of his life.

One of those relationships, with Timmy Fung, a school chum from elementary school at PS 49 was what took him to Fung’s house on 80th street the night of the accident. Robert had gone over to the Fung house to celebrate.

But the celebration was to end in disaster; Robert never returned home and the Ogle family life was shattered. Brendan says one of the last things he asked his son was “Is your phone charged?” With a smile Robert had answered him, “Dad, you worry too much.”

And the worry escalated somewhere around 11:30 PM when Robert had not yet returned home and his parents were unable to reach him by cell phone. “I just had a sense that something was wrong,” said Ogle, who decided to call the police when he could not contact his son. “The police came by around 12 midnight, but there was nothing they could do. We just had to wait.”

Hours later, sometime after 6 am, the Ogles wait was over. “The doorbell rang and three detectives came. “They were all wearing suits and ties,” said Brendan Ogle. “I knew what had happened. It was like when you see Marines go to someone’s home to tell them their son or daughter was killed in action.” When the Ogle’s answered the door the detectives told them there had been an accident — Robert had been hit by a car. “How is he?” Brendan Ogle asked. One of the detectives answered the father’s question, “Your son passed, he is gone.”

Days after the loss, those words continue to sting Brendan Ogle in an indescribable manner. He speaks of Robert not in the past but in terms of the type of boy his son was. The exceptional ability he had to interact with people of all ages, his love of sports, his academic prowess and his desire to be a journalist.

“He was a great son and a best friend to his brother, 15-year-old Sean.” Brendan Ogle spoke freely about the fact that his own son had been drinking on the night of the accident. “According to two of the boys at the party, Robert had been drinking some brandy at the party. He was not used to drinking. I would know it if he were — but he wasn’t.”

But according to witnesses at the party, Robert had consumed too much of the brandy brought to the party by one of the other boys and had become violently ill. By the time he was really sick and nearly passed out, one of the other boys, Alex Paul, who also lost his life on that night, decided to take Robert home. According to witnesses, Robert Ogle was so sick that he was unable to walk on his own and Paul carried him home.

Ogle remembered a recent wedding that the family had gone to in Manhattan. “Robert had noticed they were making these drinks at an open bar called a Blue Lagoon. They were made with vodka and some kind of blue dye,” explained Brendan. “I guess they added some type of dry ice and there was smoke coming out of them. He asked me “Dad can we try one of those, so I got it for him, knowing what would happen.” After taking a sip, Robert made a face of displeasure. Brendan Ogle had smiled to himself because the taste obviously did not bring pleasure to his son. “Remember Robert this stuff can kill you.”

And although some of the Ogle family life now wears a mask of normalcy, with Mei Ogle having returned to her position as a teacher at Brooklyn Tech High School where Robert attended and Sean Ogle returning to his classes, Brendan says the family goes in and out. “I am off from work this week and my wife and son will be off next week due to the public school holiday. I have to take off again next week because they don’t want to be alone.

Brendan Ogle moved back and forth during his conversation with The Forum, trying to make some sense out of what had happened but there seemed to be no corner of solace for the grieving father. “I loved having my son around. We had gone out and bought a 47-inch flat screen TV so that he could have his friends over to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday,” he said. “We even went out recently and ordered some new furniture for the basement so he could have his friends over. This way they’d be comfortable and we could take care of them while they were having a good time.” Now the TV and the furniture have been returned and cancelled in order to pay for funeral expenses.

The aftermath of losing a beloved son involves so many components that unless living inside the experience, they are hardly understandable. But for the Ogle’s now there is much emotion that needs to be resolved.

“We have hired an attorney to take civil action in this matter.” From the conversation with Brendan Ogle, it is surely not about money. “It’s about responsibility, rather the total lack of it,” said Brendan Ogle, “and negligence.” He spoke in quiet terms about the driver who left his car idling in front of a deli, leaving an opportunity for Kenneth Guyear to climb behind the wheel of what was to become a murder weapon. Then there is the Fung family who allowed teenagers to have the unsupervised run of their basement, bringing liquor into the house where the father slept upstairs and the mother was on vacation.

Calls to the Fung house seeking comment were not returned. Ogle’s voice drifts off into almost a whisper, “they didn’t even call me or come to my son’s wake.” Their son Timmy, whose party it was, came to the Ogle house the next day and returned Robert’s jacket and offered what Brendan calls “a semblance of an apology.”

“If they had just called me when Robert became so ill from drinking, if they had just called 911, but they didn’t. No, I am going to pursue action for the level of negligence for the driver who left his car idling and for the family who allowed unsupervised drinking by minors in their home.”

As for Kenneth Guyear, Brendan Ogle says, “He was laughing when they picked him up according to witnesses. He repeatedly accelerated to get Alexander Paul out from under his wheels,” said Ogle. “He would have killed someone else on 80th street that night. It was like he mowed them down like bowling pins.”

Brendan Ogle continued on Kenneth Guyear, “He is not a human being. He is infested with evil with no compassion for people. Looking at his picture you can see the emptiness in his eyes, there is no remorse because it is clear to see he is not a human being. He is an entity. A twisted entity.”

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