LENEXA, Kan. — It’s been a tough few days for the family and friends of a 17-year-old who fell from a moving Jeep last weekend, especially because they fought so hard to save him.
The tragic incident happened around 5 p.m. Saturday near 101st Street and Sunset.
On Monday, 17-year-old Ean Schulmeister was taken off life-support. His parents made that difficult decision after deciding to donate his organs so others could live.
“He was a great kid,” 18-year-old Ashton Griffith said. “Any time he walked into a room, he had a smile that would brighten the whole room up and make everyone who had a bad day have a good day.”
Schulmeister was like a brother to his group of friends, and Griffith was one of those friends. His tears turned to smiles when he talked about Schulmeister being the stud of the group.
“Him and women was the funniest part because out of the friend group he got most of the girls, and we would always get jealous about him,” Griffith said.
The boys had a tight bond, and when it started warming up Saturday, they took the top off one of the boy’s Jeep and set out to enjoy the weather.
Schulmeister was standing up in the Jeep, grabbing a strap and leaning out of the vehicle.
“I mean, we were all messing around but,” Griffith said. “We warned him a couple times to sit down, put your seat belt on.”
But then the strap broke and Schulmeister fell out onto the concrete road below.
His friends ran to help him, some on the phone with 911 and another FaceTiming with a fire captain who was telling the boys what to do.
“One of the boys took off his shirt and applied pressure to stop the bleeding,” Griffith said. “The other boy put his hand down his throat to try to get the clot out, you know stop it, whatever, make him breathe.”
Griffith was directing traffic on the busy road to protect his friend who was unresponsive on the ground and those who were helping him.
“We all had a role in trying to keep him safe,” he said.
In the end, though, Schulmeister couldn’t recover, and his friends learned important lessons at a young age.
“For younger people especially, cars are not toys. Wear your seat belts. That is why cars have them,” Griffith said.
The most difficult lesson is how to say goodbye. Funeral services are scheduled for Friday night in Shawnee.
“He will be very missed,” his friend said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support the family and help pay for funeral expenses.
The boys in the Jeep ranged in age from 15 to 18. Police say the 15-year-old with a restricted license was driving.
Although the case is still under investigation, according to state law, driving on a restricted license anywhere but to and from school or a job requires a licensed driver 21 or older in the front passenger seat. Restricted drivers are also not allowed to carry non-related minors in the car.