Brian Mooney

Brian Mooney spent more than 20 months in a coma after being hit by a car in 2011.

Photo provided by Mooney family

Brian Mooney was just 17 when he was hit by a car the last day of his junior year at Egg Harbor Township High School. He was 19 when he died last month.

His family spent a lot of time after his accident talking to him, but Brian couldn’t talk back. He was in a coma for 20-plus months, since June 17, 2011.

“I never gave up on him, and I told him not to give up,” said Brian’s mother, Kartha, of Egg Harbor Township.

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Even though he couldn’t speak, his mom is sure he could hear her.

Brian was the youngest of five children. His father, Richard, a machinist, died in 2006 at 56.

And Kartha, now 50, was a baker for years, but she lost her job after the accident.

“This whole thing has messed me up financially,” she said. “My house is in foreclosure now.”

The accident had many other effects on the family. For one thing, it changed the way Kartha travels around her home area.

“I’ll drive out of my way to avoid” the spot where he was hit, on Ocean Heights Avenue, she said. “But if I have to pass it, I usually put my hazard lights on.”

Brian’s friend, Dave Gerges, remembers the accident too well. He was walking with Brian when a driver veered off the road — apparently to avoid another car — and ran Brian over.

Gerges figures they were walking just inches apart — “shoulder to shoulder, off the side of the road,” he said. “I just heard the wind behind me, and before I even thought about it, (the car) hit Brian. ... I probably should’ve gone with him.”

The car never touched him, but that day changed Gerges’ life too. He hadn’t seen his father for years before the accident, but his dad called a few months later and invited him to go to Florida to finish high school.

“(The accident) is the main reason I moved here,” Gerges said Monday, from Fort Myers, Fla.

Another close friend of Brian’s since seventh grade, John Miller, lives in Ventnor. He said his buddy liked to ride dirt bikes, “And he was really good at drawing.”

Brian’s house was where his friends liked to hang out through high school — and his mom adds that his friends still come around.

Steve Mooney said he and Brian were fairly typical brothers — they’d fight over clothes, then sit down before bed to talk about their day. But Steve was impressed by Brian’s tight circle of friends, and he admits he learned from his little brother about the importance of friendship.

The Mooney family has heard from the driver who hit Brian — she was 20, just a few years out of his high school herself. Steve talked to her once, his mom adds.

“Steve told her, ‘Don’t let this hurt you as much as it’s hurting us,’” Kartha said, “‘because it would be a real shame for it to hurt two families this way.’”

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