Family, friends mourn loss of Snohomish man

By KARL SCHWEIZER

Herald Writer

MONROE — Bob Grant buried his son Saturday.

His boy, Nelson Leo Grant, 27, of Snohomish, officially died Tuesday at Harborview Medical Center Tuesday, leaving behind a wife and three little girls, all younger than three.

But Nelson Grant had been brain-dead since 8 a.m. Monday, when he braked and swerved his United Parcel Service truck into a guard barrier and struck a light pole.

He did it to avoid smashing a Mitsubishi Mirage that police said had crossed three lanes of State Route 520 and cut him off, according to the Washington State Patrol. The 18-year-old driver was unhurt.

Now the victim’s father has one simple message: Please watch how you drive.

"One slight moment of carelessness has created change in the lives of all these people, including the young man," Grant said. "It’s a terrible thing to happen."

Nelson Grant did watch how he drove, his father said, always fastening his seat belt, rarely exceeding the speed limit. It was the result of dad’s tough requirements on Nelson and his brother when they first learned to drive.

"I required them to earn their Eagle Scout rank, to be able to maintain an automobile, to pay for the gas, oil and insurance," Grant said. "And if they got a ticket, they would pay me 10 times the amount before they drove again."

Neither of Grant’s sons met those requirements until they were 18, he said, but when they did, they appreciated the privilege of driving.

Nelson had only one flaw: a tendency to swerve rather than colliding with objects that came into his path, Grant said. Three weeks before the fatal accident, Nelson totaled his car when he swerved to avoid a dog that ran across the road.

"I said you should have hit the dog," said Grant. "In this case it’s unfortunate that he didn’t do that, because he may or may not have hit that Mitsubishi."

But Nelson did swerve.

Saturday, several hundred friends, family and United Parcel Service coworkers crammed into the Mormon church in Monroe to remember him.

Nelson graduated from Monroe High School in 1991, said his mother, Jean Grant. A year later, he went to Japan where he spent two years as a missionary. When he returned, he worked for his parents’ dry cleaning business for a time before getting hired by UPS, she said.

He married in 1996. His family lived in Lynnwood, then Kirkland, and had moved to Snohomish just a month ago to rent a house that would have more space for the three daughters.

His father recalled that Nelson taught Sunday school to small children at his church, loved to read, and played the drums.

Nelson’s children won’t remember him, so guests at the funeral were invited to write their memories of him, said the elder Grant. The notes will be placed in a scrapbook for the children to read when they are older, he said.

And, as tragic as his son’s death is, it did help at least five people live longer lives, Grant said.

Nelson’s heart, liver and pancreas were transplanted into three men, ages 51, 52 and 57, at hospitals in Seattle. His right kidney went to a 57-year-old man in Spokane.

And his left kidney went to Tennessee because it was a perfect match for a 35-year-old woman there, Grant said.

Nelson lived an honorable life and will be missed, his father said. He also said he hoped parents would impress upon their children to drive carefully.

"The bottom line is, it really is a waste. But life happens and life goes on, and we’re grateful for the time we had with him."

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