Crash victim, husband and father of 4, cared for others

By Chris Parenteau - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jeffrey Morrill was taken off life support Wednesday after suffering severe brain damage when he was involved in a hit-and-run crash while riding his motorcycle Tuesday afternoon.

Carlton DeCosta, 50, was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injuries and driving with a suspended license.

Family and friends of Morrill, a husband and father of four, describe the 31-year-old as someone who genuinely cared for others.

Morrill's brother-in-law, Conrad Dove, said Morrill's family is donating his organs, which doctors say may help up to 50 people, something family and friends say is just another way Morrill can help others.

"Never a negative word about people or a situation or being dealt a tough hand in life," Dove said. "His attitude was always 'I'll just work harder. If I work harder, I can dig out of this hole for my family.'"

Dove has known Morrill since the third grade and ended up marrying Morrill's sister. He said Morrill was the example of how someone should be as a father, a husband and a man of God.

Dove said he and Morrill had planned to answer an Ice Bucket Challenge this week, but after the accident Dove and Morrill's family decided to carry on -- and use the challenge to remind people that organ donation can turn a tragedy into other people's rescue.

"Of course we were all praying for a miracle, that God would provide us a miracle," Dove said. "We didn't get the miracle that we were asking for, but potentially 50 other people are going to get their miracle... so that's kind of an answered prayer."

Trey Brunson, pastor of community life at First Baptist Church and a friend of Morrill, said he was very involved at First Baptist in a group that reaches out to those who are struggling.

"I worry that Jacksonville has lost one of its most loving and caring community members, a guy that genuinely loved people and wanted to help people," Brunson said.

Brunson said when he first heard of the accident Tuesday evening, he was hopeful that his friend would be able to pull through. He said he's been able to visit Morrill and his family at the hospital, but they are still in shock.

"Jeff was one of the most exciting, energetic, craziest, loving people you will ever meet," Brunson said. "He was the guy who was always joking about something, always making sure everyone in the room was laughing and making sure everyone felt cared for."

Dove said Morrill was the financial provider for the family. His wife stayed at home with their four children, ranging in age from 17 months to 6 years old. The oldest asked a question at the hospital that left everyone shocked.

"The quote was, 'Where are we going to get money from?'" Dove said. "It hushed the room. Jeff was the one who would get up and tell Aiden that he has to go to work to provide. He always set a great example, and he was always working."

Dove said this all has taught him one thing.

"You don't take for granted tomorrow," he said. "Grab your kids when you can. When Jeff left for work on Tuesday, he didn't know he wouldn't see them again."

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the Morrill family deal with the financial impacts of this tragedy.

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