Lansing, N.Y. — Lynn Eastman Jr. and his son Lynn Eastman III were metal workers together.
The Lansing father helped teach his son — who died after an accident Friday night — how to build hand-rails, do repairs for farmers and construct stands for Christmas trees.
“He cut all my parts, and then I’d put it all together and he’d sand it and weld it and finish it,” said Eastman Jr., the father. “He was so good for what little time he’d done it.”
The father and son got coffee every morning before driving to work at Innovative Metal Works in Locke. Afterwards, they’d spend time fixing the garden, taking care of the lawn, preparing coal for the stove, or whatever else needed to get done.
“We were always together,” Eastman Jr. said of his son. “He was my best friend.”
Then there were the moments where the work was done, when the two men came back to their cozy place on Ludlow Road.
“We’d get home at night and just talk and talk and talk and talk,” Eastman Jr. said of his son, who died at the age of 19. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it.”
Eastman III is the second child Eastman Jr. and his wife Rebecca Eastman have lost. Their 3-month-old daughter died in the 1990s.
“No mother should have to bury one child, let alone two,” said Heidi Reynolds, Rebecca Eastman’s sister. “That’s the first thing she told me: ‘He’s gone, and no mother should have to bury one.’”
The circumstances of the accident are under investigation.
The sheriff’s office has only said that there was an “ATV vs. dirt bike accident” Friday night at around 11:17 p.m. on Decamp Road in Lansing.
Eastman was taken to Cayuga Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:13 a.m. Two others — Eastman’s friends Billy Radcliffe, 21; and Zachary Radcliffe, 19 — were taken to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.
(A nursing supervisor confirmed Sunday afternoon that both Radcliffes remain in critical condition as of around 3 p.m.)
Eastman Jr., the father, said he had not heard from anyone from the sheriff’s office outside a brief conversation with a deputy at the hospital.
The sheriff’s office has not returned requests for comment from The Voice since the accident. Decamp Road was cleared of emergency service personnel Saturday night.
Family plagued by tragedy
Eastman Jr. and his wife Rebecca Eastman have had two daughters and one son in their 20 years of marriage.
One daughter, Heather, died at 3-months-old of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 1997.
Their third child, a teenage daughter named Amber Barber, almost died in a terrible car crash in 2005. She suffered severe head injuries.
Eastman Jr.’s father died when he was a young boy. His mother died after a battle with Alzheimer’s in 2007.
Rebecca Eastman’s father died when she was 9. Her uncle died about two weeks ago.
Despite the difficulties, Eastman Jr. said he, his wife, son and daughter built a close-knit family unit.
“We’ve never had really that much and Christmas time would come around and our kids hardly got anything at all,” Eastman Jr. said. “And they would never complain at all.”
Eastman Jr. described Eastman III as a “big-hearted kid.”
Other family members said that was in large part because of the influence of his dad.
“Most boys want to be like their dad. But he was one of those boys who really wanted to be like their dad,” said Bonnie, 63, an aunt. “He wanted to look like dad and talk like dad. And he did.”
There have been at least four generations of Eastmans in the Lansing area, according to family.
Eastman III went to Lansing Central School District and BOCES. He was a wrestler. Eastman had friends in the area, and there’s been an outpouring of support on Facebook for the family.
Rebecca Eastman is from Genoa. Some members of Rebecca Eastman’s family, including her mother, sisters and brother, came from as far as 700 miles away in mourning.
About a dozen cousins, uncles, aunts and other family crowded into Eastman’s home on Ludlow Road late Saturday night.
They ate pizza, lined out along the narrow kitchen table, and laughed as they shared stories of Eastman III.
Various family members would also rush to hug and comfort Rebecca Eastman as she broke out into long sobs.
Eastman Jr. has far more questions about how his son’s death occurred than answers.
On Friday, Eastman Jr. and Eastman III finished their shifts at Innovative Metal Works and then went to buy cigarettes in Syracuse. A little later, Eastman Jr. went to a friend’s house with his son and they bought a snowmobile that was for sale.
Eastman Jr. then dropped Eastman III at his friend’s house. What happened after that is, for now, unknown.
Close to 1 a.m., Eastman Jr. and his wife were sleeping at home when Eastman’s brother knocked on his door.
There had been an accident. They had to go to the hospital immediately.
When they arrived the parents found their son. Eastman III had a gash on the back of his head and another on his left forehead.
Burying his own son
Before his sudden death, Eastman III was an outdoorsman who his family described as sometimes wild and adventurous.
Eastman Jr. said his son loved hunting and fishing. Eastman III had bought himself a new bow last summer.
“He shot that deer with a shotgun … from 120 yards away,” Eastman Jr. said, pointing to a mounting on the wall with pride. “That was his first buck.”
Eastman Jr.’s smile quickly vanished.
“I was going to put the bow in the casket but I decided to use it,” he said. “He would want me to.”
Eastman III was wearing steel-toed Carolina work boots when the crash occurred. They’ve gone missing since.
His dad had the exact same pair, although maybe a size or two apart.
Eastman Jr. doesn’t know if he wants his son cremated or buried. If his son is buried, Eastman Jr. said, it will be with his father’s boots.