Reliving the worst day of his life
One could have heard a pin drop last Friday morning at Medford High School as a packed gymnasium listened to a father share the heart wrenching story of losing his son nearly four years ago.
Through the video, Lasting Impact, followed by a live presentation, Matt Maas shared his tragic story yet once again. Maas is the emergency management director for Dodge County, a city council member for Dodge Center and a volunteer firefighter. But he’s become most known because of his efforts in saving the lives of teenagers across southern Minnesota.
Matt’s entire life changed just days before Christmas in 2015 when he received the devastating news while Christmas shopping in Rochester that his 18-year-old son, Logan, a senior at Triton High School, was killed in a motor vehicle crash.
Since that fateful day on top of everything else he has going on, Matt has taken on the role of educating teens about wearing their seat belts. His son didn’t and never saw graduation day.
Sgt. Troy Christianson of the Minnesota State Patrol came up with the idea to produce a video on Logan’s crash and approached Matt’s family with the concept. They agreed and now the well-produced video is being shown with hopes of hitting every high school in Minnesota over the next year.
Matt says he feels it’s his responsibility to carry the message for teens to buckle up. “They need to know they’re not invincible. It happens right in their back yard,” Matt said.
Asked how he pushes forward to do as much public speaking as he has about the tragedy, Matt said: “It’s very, very hard. Reliving the worst day of my life publicly, but the message is so important.”
Logan was Matt’s middle child. Matt recalls one day after Logan’s death that he began laughing about something. Instantly, he says, he became overcome with anger and grief asking himself how dare he laugh after losing his son. That’s just a small example of how Matt is faced with constantly dealing with his son’s death.
Logan’s senior project at Triton was to put on a mock car crash in spring before prom and graduation. Ironically, he didn’t follow through himself with the lifesaving message he would have delivered to his classmates about buckling up.
Matt hopes the video and his speaking provides a wake up call for teenagers. Matt copes with the tragedy to this day by keeping himself busy all the time whether it’s with his career, volunteer work or opportunities to educate teens. Most importantly, he hopes his son is looking down on him with a smile of approval.
“I hope my son would be proud of the message we are showing and prevent others from going through what we have,” Matt said.
It’s a message that can’t be repeated enough. Anyone who gets behind the wheel or rides in a vehicle needs to go in hot pursuit of buckling up. Just as the Maas family found out, lives depend upon it.