“Will Smith” Lives On
“He gave his last smile at 8 years-old...his crumpled little body, crushed by the impact of the Chevy Malibu that arrived out of nowhere and stole his final breath.”
Susan Moulton could barely relay the tale as she explained to me the devastating end to her youngest child’s life. Will Smith’s entire existence had been a surprise to her from the very beginning. Never did she expect his “ending” to be that way too. As she ran through the series of events that took place on June 3, 2007, shock and disbelief still tainted her every word about the accident that transformed a simple morning outing into a parent's worst nightmare.
Having grown up in an affluent family with strong “ranching” roots, Susan Moulton would mature to become a very sturdy, grounded, and hard working woman, with sound priorities and a passion for travel. Both Africa and Maui became her two favorite corners of the world, next to her permanent home in San Antonio, Texas. Her two favorite people were, easily, Susan's two boys -- Charlie and Will.
Born from different fathers - a result of separate marriages - Charlie and Will took a bit of time to learn to love each other. But upon the day of Will’s death, it was Charlie who held his brother’s hand when the final declaration of Will’s “passing” was announced. And it was his tears that cut through his mother’s heart like a knife and tested her faith.
All of Susan’s prayers could not alter the tragic outcome that befell the Moulton family that day. They would, however, bring comfort in future days as Susan moved from mourning the loss of her son to a place in her life where "helping other children in need" became critical to her own healing as well as the welfare of so many others. The memory of Will now lives on through the lives, hopes, and dreams of many kids as well as a very unique foundation, The Will Smith Foundation.
The courageous steps Susan and her family have taken to piece their lives back together, while helping other families in the process, are enormously admirable. Never-the-less, the toll on all of them has been significant, especially on Susan, who bares the weight of the accident, resoundingly, on her shoulders and in her memory. For, you see, Susan was the one driving at the time the accident occurred.
“We were at our home in Maui. I was driving to meet my older son and my boyfriend at the conclusion of a long bike ride they were taking together. Will was sitting next to me, belted in and, basically, keeping me company for the ride. Suddenly, a car came careening towards us - out of nowhere - and struck us "head on". There was no where for us to go. No shoulder to drive onto; no safe place to move in order to lessen the impact. Nothing. We spun out of control and when we landed, finally, Will could barely utter a word before he fell unconscious. I would later learn that the driver was a young woman whose faculties were impaired. This woman had a history of both substance abuse as well as reckless driving and both were at play this time too.
The medics came quickly. Seconds felt like years passing. They worked on all of us, but especially Will; then they rushed us to the hospital. Will went through a series of surgeries and fought hard to stay alive throughout every one of them. But, in the end, he just couldn't do it. God took him and left me with a enormous hole in my heart that I, now, try to fill by helping others in his memory. I want Will to live on and the foundation I established is my way of making that happen."
Since that life-changing incident, the woman responsible would go on to give birth to her own child - a little girl - and serve her penance outlined in a plea bargain arising from the manslaughter charge that resulted from Will Smith’s death. She still struggles emotionally with the challenges that brought her to that fateful day, now, coupled by those that foloowed in the aftermath.
Susan said the idea for The Will Smith Foundation came moments prior to the actual death of her son, Will. She begged God to let him live, but even if he did not, she vowed that she would establish a foundation in Will's name to help other children live happier lives. The mission statement of the foundation is to “provide positive life experiences for children.”
As Susan wants Will’s life to be remembered and captured in the lives of other needy children, The Will Smith Foundation is dedicated to enriching the lives of children in both large and small ways -- whether it be the need of a single wheelchair or larger financial contributions to child-related events. So devoted is this mother in keeping the spirit of Will alive that she is even planning to produce a movie about his life and the foundation’s work. Information about the movie can be found at Willdothemovie.com.
Community support of Susan Moulton’s efforts is enormous on the island of Maui. The loss of Will continues to haunt the residents who see the death of this wonderful little boy as extraordinarily senseless. An island where substance abuse issues are “high” and perilous roads “vast,”
Maui has begun to integrate programs to bring solution to both. Still...more needs to be done.
"The community of Maui has come together to raise the awareness around Will’s life and memory. In this, they are bettering and saving the lives of children everywhere,” states Susan Moulton with overwhelming gratitude.
Needless-to-say, I am astounded by the strength and courage this incredible mother continues to display. As a mom with five children, myself, I marvel at Susan Moulton's grace and heroism in the face of such devastating events. The fact that she can still stand - and even speak about them - is utterly amazing to me. I, daresay, I doubt I'd be so strong given this happened to me and my family. Admittedly, I cried along with Susan during our discussion.
Having stumbled upon The Will Smith Foundation while doing alternate research on the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, I am so very glad I did. I feel honored to have met Susan Moulton and to have had the opportunity to share Will Smith, her, and the Moulton family story. It is a tale that needs to be told far and wide -- one that gives “face” to the sad realities of illegal substance abuse. I’m sure even Will and Jada Pinkett Smith would understand the importance of my telling it, knowing how dedicated they are to their own children and so many others.
I urge you to take an interest in The Will Smith Foundation. I also recommend that you don’t go a day without hugging your children. It’s worth the time it takes to wrestle them to the ground and there is much to be gained from doing so. Yes, there will be a little squawking involved but you can live with a little squawking. Better "that" than living in regret, given the day ever comes when life turns-on-a-dime for you, just as it did for Susan Moulton.
I am quite certain that she remembers - rather vividly - the last time she kissed her son, Will, and every day prior that she didn't.
Many thanks to Susan Moulton and The Will Smith Foundation for making this interview possible