LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - CJ Wetzler, a Lubbock youth pastor at The Message, just wanted to share a message to his students and their families when he posted to social media a screenshot of a text message he said he sent his neighbor, Officer Nicholas Reyna.
The text read: “Hey Nick, I just read that a LPD officer lost their life working the wreck on I-27... praying for you and the department”
It was sent after Saturday’s tragic crash that claimed the lives of 27-year-old Officer Reyna, 39-year-old Firefighter Eric Hill and critically injured 30-year-old Firefighter Matt Dawson. However, it was before the announcement that Officer Reyna was among those who died.
Wetzler said he had just gotten to know Officer Reyna after speaking with him outside their residence as he was working on his car.
“In my short time with him, it was so clear he loved his family,” Wetzler said. “It was so clear he loved his new job and he was finding meaning and purpose in that. I get to work with a lot of people in my role as a pastor. It was so evident he had a gentle and loving soul and really wanted to serve the people of this community. I can tell he not only loved his job but loved his people.”
Wetzler took to social media Saturday in hopes of highlighting the sacrifices of first responders and the people they truly are, just like he saw in Officer Reyna. He also hoped to encourage others to take steps to make our roads a safer place.
“We all have to take time to take self awareness and assess our own driving capacity and say, ‘Are there things I’m doing that I could stop doing that might prevent something like this in the future?’,” Wetzler said.
While the investigation into the crashes continue, Wetzler hoped to still make sure drivers don’t become complacent while operating a vehicle. As a former pilot, he said he learned in flying that complacency can lead to accidents.
“New pilots tend to have an accident early on because of lack of experience and then there’s this trend when they get safer and safer until that lull of complacency finally comes in,” Wetzler said. “That’s when we start seeing accidents again. Pilots get comfortable and then eventually kind of come out of it. I think the same is true for us as drivers. I want to kind of share that message. It’s really easy for us to be really comfortable in our vehicles. We drive the same roads every day and tend to not change our routing. We drive the same car for many years and go the same places and all the conditions seem to be more comfortable to us. That’s when we get tricked into saying, ‘Maybe I can take that text, take that call, maybe drive a little faster or risk a little bit more.’”
While the post has received more than a thousand shares on Facebook, he hopes the focus stays on the family of the fallen and those recovering. He hopes they realize they are supported and that the people they serve can make the changes to make us all safer.
“They have a tremendous community and I hope this post being shared so many times reminds our first responders that we see you, we’re thankful for them and we do care and pray for them,” Wetzler said. “We do want to take actionable steps. I do believe in the power of prayer but I also believe that we have a responsibility as people to act and we can choose to do better.”