Couple on crusade to save teens' lives

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - "I want you to picture me at this moment as your mom," said Yvette Pearse.

The Harrison County mom wants every student to know how a mother feels when she loses her children.

"My children call me every day between 3:30 and 4:00," said Pearse. "And when I didn't get that call, I called (Kiara's) cell phone. Her cell phone called me back. I saw Kiara, I said 'Hey, where are you?'"

"Ma'am, this is the Gulfport Police Department", the caller said.

"Do you know that my heart dropped to my feet?" Pearse said.

Her words were powerful. Her story was heart breaking.

"I get to Garden Park Hospital, and they won't let me see my children. They won't tell me anything. You know why? Because Kiara was already dead," Pearse said.

Her only two children, 17-year-old Kiara and 15-year-old Jameel, died when their car flipped on Highway 49. Both teens were ejected from the car. It happened two years ago, on November 14th.

"The fact that it's the anniversary today, it just brings up more emotions," said Brian Pearse.

Brian and Yvette Pearse want to spare other parents the same pain. So on Friday, they shared their story with students at Resurrection Catholic School in Pascagoula.

"Probably coming from us is just a stronger message. It's still the same message: 'Wear your seatbelt,'" said Brian Pearse.

The graphic images and accident statistics remind students that they are not invincible.

"It was sad, because they're our age. And it could be any of us that could have died," said sophomore Rachael Millette.

"They did a really good job explaining everything and talking about what happens if you don't wear it. How he's all affected by it," said sophomore Emma Mitchell.

The scenes also brings back memories of a former student who died in a September accident.

"Nick Woods, two months ago, he got in a car crash. He didn't have his seatbelt on, and he passed away," said junior Emmaleigh Davis. "One of the slides they had when they were all knocking together, somebody didn't have their seatbelt on, and it really reminded me of Nick. I'm wearing a seatbelt."

"I don't want your parents to ever have to face holding our hand while you die," Brian Pearse told the students. "Take the time to buckle up. It's the law, and it's your life."

"Be safe. We love you," said Yvette Pearse.

Brian and Yvette Pearse are planning to put up a sign at Harrison Central High School in memory of their children. The sign reminds students to buckle-up as they enter and leave campus.

The couple also set up the "K and J Foundation" to provide scholarships to high school seniors in Harrison County.