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Deadly highways: Two Oklahomans share stories of losing best friend

In the first 114 days of 2013, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported 113 fatalities. Nearly one-fourth of those crashes occurred on five highways — Interstate 44, Interstate 35, Interstate 40, U.S. 77 and State Highway 51.
by Adam Kemp Published: April 29, 2013

Sudden loss

Menecca McHone drives past mile marker 147 on I-35 in southern Logan County twice a day on her way to and from work. Each time, she thinks of her husband, Jeremiah.

In January 2012, Jeremiah McHone, 28, was heading home when the tire on the work truck he was driving blew out. McHone overcorrected, and the box truck slammed into the cable barrier and rolled into the southbound lane, killing him instantly.

“We would always take the same route home, and he would always call me and ask ‘What's for dinner?'” Menecca McHone said. “I didn't get a call from him that day.”

McHone, 30, said she had taken the couples' three children to visit her dad, and on the way home she got a call from Jeremiah's best friend.

“He told me to pull over, and he just started crying,” she said. “The Guthrie police met me at a gas station and told me my husband had been in a wreck and that he didn't make it.”

McHone still is struck by how quickly her family's life changed. Her children lost a great dad and she lost her best friend.

“I didn't have a normal family life growing up, and I wanted my kids to have that sense of normal,” she said. “Everything just changed so fast, and I had to adapt for my kids. It's been incredibly tough.”

Dealing with loss

After Ford's death, Long felt compelled to let others know about the dangers and stupidity of making poor choices while driving.

He helped with a leadership program at Ada High School that preached safe driving. He told his story to students at every school in the district, making sure that his name and Ford's name would be remembered in a positive light.

“I just wanted some kind of positive out of this,” he said.

“If we even helped one student drive safer through our program then it was worth it.”

McHone said family and friends asked her if she wanted a roadside memorial for Jeremiah to be placed where his accident occurred.

She declined.

“We talk about him and tell stories and remember his laugh,” she said.

“That road is not where he is or where he would want to be.”

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by Adam Kemp
Enterprise Reporter
Adam Kemp is an enterprise reporter and videographer for the Oklahoman and Newsok.com. Kemp grew up in Oklahoma City before attending Oklahoma State University. Kemp has interned for the Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Gazette and covered Oklahoma State...
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My mother and brothers left the room and a friend stayed and told me that Tyler didn't make it. I just remember how one minute we were hanging out being kids, and the next he was gone.”

Billy Long,
Long's best friend,

Tyler Ford, was

killed in a 2005

accident that

also injured him.

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