William Bruce Tompkins was killed at 22 years old by a drunk driver in Tempe, AZ, in 2011.
Will was the only survivor of a tragic vehicle accident when he was just a child: his mother was driving him from their remote ranch home to school in Torrington, WY one wintry morning, lost control of her vehicle, rolled the car into the roadside ditch, was partially ejected with the roof landing on her head, and she died on scene, with Will, trapped in the wreckage, watching her face as she passed. Her last words were, “I love you…”.
Most children would have never recovered from such a loss: with his father’s help, Will matured into one of the finest young men I’ve ever had the honor to know.
Following a family move to Tempe, AZ, and graduation from high school, Will enlisted in the US Marine Corps. Nearing completion of Basic Recruit Training at MCRD San Diego, Will contracted a rare viral disease; after over a week of forcing himself to endure increasing debilities while still continuing the grueling training regimen, one morning he was found comatose in his bunk at reveille, and transported to Base Medical, and was graduated, “pinned”, and declared a Marine, while still in ICU, by the unanimous decision of his platoon’s training NCOs.
After recovering, Will was declared medically unfit to continue as a Marine, received an honorable medical discharge, much to his displeasure. Returning home to Tempe, he found employment, and soon enrolled in college.
Will was a very active member of a local Tempe motorcycle club. He loved riding with the club, camping, and four-wheeling with his family, and loved his Lord.
One day, after helping his dad install a new washer and dryer, he hopped on his bike and headed to afternoon classes, and never made it.
On the way to school, on a busy 5-lane boulevard, a drunk driver failed to yield to opposing traffic before beginning a left turn, striking Will with such force his full-coverage helmet was blown completely off his head. Arriving EMS found him comatose on scene; he never regained consciousness.
After a few days of decreasing brain activity, hospital staff informed my nephew it was time to consider disconnecting comprehensive life-support, and allowing Will to pass, leaving his father with the unimaginable dilemma of allowing his one son, his sole surviving legacy of that first tragic loss so many years ago, to die.
Rest in Peace, Will. We who knew you, remember.