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Brookline family of crash victim mourns amid holiday

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 9:04 p.m.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
The Posey family comforts one another on Christmas Eve. James Posey, 60 of Brookline was killed in a car accident Sunday by a man police say was speeding and intoxicated. Gaye Posey, 59 is surrounded by her granddaughter A'Staria Watson, 7, daughter Tianna Posey, son Jason Waller, 43, youngest daughter Nia Posey, 11 is on her lap and father Herman Waller, 81 is in the background.
A family photograph of James Posey, 60 of Brookline pictured with his youngest daughter Nia Posey. James Posey was killed in a car accident Sunday by a man police say was speeding and intoxicated.

Gaye Posey, 59, won't cry for the man everyone else called their best friend.

“How can I cry?” she said, 6 feet from the spot in the living room where she married “Mr. Ribbs” 40 years ago. “I got three kids. I got his jokes. We had Christmases. We went dancing. I was in love. That's more than most people ever get.”

James Posey, 60, of Brookline was killed Sunday night when a driver crossed the concrete median on Saw Mill Run Boulevard near Lewis Street, slamming Posey's head and torso into the steering column of his Toyota Highlander.

James Posey died while paramedics rushed his three nieces to Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville. The girls survived with minor cuts.

Police charged the driver, Robert James Freund Jr., 21, of Allentown with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, involuntary manslaughter and other crimes.

Gaye Posey got the call within minutes, but it was more than six hours before officers confirmed her husband died on the scene.

“I knew he was gone,” she said. “Everyone kept yelling at me to quit saying that. ‘Shut up Gaye. Just get in the car.' But I could tell. The connection was gone.”

Cradling his infant daughter, Shaylynn, Jason Waller, 43, paced the family room picking up photos, answering phones and explaining — again — to concerned family and friends that yes, his father was gone.

James Posey was everyone's friend, advocate and savior, Waller said.

“He was the kind of man you want to be,” he said. “When you talked to him, you knew he cared.”

The funeral service, scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at Wesley Center AME Zion Church in the Hill District, won't interrupt Christmas, his wife said Wednesday, but in 2014, the real work begins.

“I was always the pit bull,” she said, “always arguing, always fussing. And there he'd be just smiling. Well, I'm going to make a difference if I have to call everyone from Gov. (Tom) Corbett on down.”

Freund failed field sobriety tests and an initial breath test revealed a blood alcohol content of about 0.28 percent. The legal driving limit in Pennsylvania is 0.08 percent. Freund has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Jan. 3.

“Now it's up to me, up to all of us, to speak out and make sure everyone who thinks about driving drunk sees what can happen, hears the kind of pain it can cause,” she said.

Alcohol-impaired driving claimed 10,322 lives nationwide last year, an increase of 4.6 percent compared with 2011, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Pennsylvania's Operation Safe Holiday yielded 190 DUI and 201 speeding citations in 2012. This year, it includes all state police officers and at least 600 municipal officers.

“No, I won't cry for me. I got 40 years,” Gaye Posey said, thumbing her ring and smiling. “And I won't be fighting because he was mine. I'll do it because he belonged to everyone else.”

Megan Harris is a Trib Total Media staff writer. She can be reached at 412-388-5815 or mharris@tribweb.com.

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