Jacob A Varner

Portland, Oregon

December 31, 2015

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
22 Air Force SrA

757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada

 He joined the USAF June 19, 2013 and served honorably until his passing on December 31, 2015 in a vehicle accident. Jacob was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Outstanding Unit Award, and USAF Training Ribbon.

Jacob Varner was born on May 13, 1993 entering the world in a big way at 11 lbs. 6 oz. He grew up as the middle child between his older brother Ethan and younger sister Amber. He grew up in Gladstone attending school K- 12 in the area and making lifelong friends. 

Jacob was involved in sports including T-ball graduating to basketball, baseball, soccer and shot put in high school. He was asked to try out for track in high school, competing in shot put and he set some records that year, but just didn't feel like doing it again. 

His parents said that sometimes they would gnash their teeth because they felt Jacob had a lack of motivation and not using his full potential. But that would go away when Jacob felt motivated about something he excelled! Such as, coming from a family of dedicated hunters, Jacob went hunting every year. The hunting trips was a special time spent with his dad. Jacob was also an avid "gamer" playing WOW (world of war craft video game among others) Jacob also enjoyed staying up late with sister Amber giggling and talking and not to mention the late night food runs to Rigobertos. 

He was always active, riding bikes with his brother everywhere. He was confident, happy and known for his smirk and smile, described as friendly and sincere – make friends wherever he went. When he was younger he would go to the park and play for hours with all the other children. He could join a group of children playing effortlessly and seemingly instantly. Jacob was also a defender. More than once he stood up for others when they were being picked on. Maybe this was due to Jacob's height, known as the "big" friend that you wanted to have your back. He had a kind heart and did not tolerate bullying. 

Typical dress for Jacob was oversized basketball shorts, high top tennis shoes and t-shirt. If it was snowing, then he might put on a zip up sweatshirt. Jeans were a rare occasion. In 2012 Jacob identified that he wanted to enlist in the Air Force. He reported on February 19, 2013. His mother says that she will never forget waiting with him at the MEPS center for them to call his name so he could gather with the other young men and women waiting to get on the transport for basic training – hearing his name called – he gave his mom a big hug and she watched him walk away towards his new future.

Memorial Service for Jacob Varner who died on December 31, 2015 in Nevada will be Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 11 am at New Hope Community Church. There will be a reception to follow at the church. Committal with full Military Honors at Willamette National Cemetery at 3 pm. 
Family suggests contributions to: USO Northwest-PDX
700 NE Airport Way, Suite 3112, Portland, Oregon 97218

Jacob returning home. Click photo below:

January 9, 2016

For some memorial service snapshots, click photo below:

January 19, 2016

From Las Vegas KSNV NBC 3 news3lv.com 01/01/16:

Two young men killed in New Year's Eve crash on I-15 near Craig Road identified

Reported by: Denise Rosch

LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) – Investigators are still looking into what lead to a fiery crash that killed two men on I-15 near Craig Road just before the turn of the New Year. 

The driver Jacob Alan Varner, 22, and the passenger Darren Tongol Thomas, 24, were identified by the Clark County coroner's office.

Their official causes of death are still pending.

Only one car was involved in the accident, a rollover in the southbound lanes that happened at about 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Troopers say the driver hit the median divider before crossing all lanes of traffic and rolling a little farther down the highway. The Nissan 370z came to a rest on its top and caught fire.

A tragic end, to what was already a deadly year on our local roads.

“These are lives that are lost. These are families now broken,” said NHP Trooper Loy Hixson.

Hixson says it’s a frustrating way to end 2015. Both men killed in the crash were in their early 20s, killed when the car crashed and caught on fire. Investigators now say that it appears that the driver made an unsafe lane change and lost control before hitting the cement divider. 

“Especially when a vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed a lot of times with the result we will see is a fire because the gas tank is ruptured because of so much force or energy that gets redirected,” Hixson said.

Even before the accident, 2015 was a deadly year on Clark County streets. Traffic fatalities made a significant jump. According to data from Monday, December 28, 204 people were killed in Clark County. To put the number in perspective, only 174 people were killed in 2014.

This crash marked the 71st traffic-related fatality for the Nevada Highway Patrol-Southern Command in 2015.

Trooper Hixson says law enforcement can only do so much. The notion of “see something, say something” also applies to unsafe driving. 

“You know you're with somebody and they're drinking, take that extra step and say: I'm going to take the keys. You're the passenger inside the vehicle say slow down, put the phone down, put your seatbelt on,” Hixson said. 

DUI fatalities did go down in 2015. There were 39 over the year, compared with 45 in 2014. It is not yet known whether alcohol played any role in this latest crash. 
From Las vegas ABC 13 KTVN.com 01/01/16:

Friend: Nellis Airman was one of two killed in New Year's Eve crash
Two people died on impact at I-15 and Craig
By: Jacqui Heinrich

We've learned the name of one of two men killed in last night's fatal crash on Interstate 15 near Craig Road.

Jacob Varner was just 22 years old and an airman at Nellis Air Force, according to his friend. He died on impact after rolling over 4 lanes of traffic, his car bursting into flames.

Desiree Cruz lived with Jacob Varner, and got the chilling news Friday morning that after a night out to ring in the new year, Varner would not be returning home.

"He would buy the groceries, I would cook him dinner. He would do the laundry, I would fold it. He would feed the dog at night, I would feed the dog in the morning. We were a team, and now it's gonna be hard being in the house by myself," Cruz told Action News.

Varner was an airman at Nellis, according to Cruz, and was enjoying his last few months here in Vegas before returning to his home in Oregon to say goodbye to family before deploying to Korea for a year.

Cruz spoke with Varner's family early Friday, relaying the message his sergeant had told her. Varner was speeding, impaired, hit the median, rolled over 4 lanes of traffic, and came to a fiery stop that ended his life and the life of his passenger.

"They were very hysterical as I could imagine. So I told them, you know, I'm sorry, I'm in shock. I can't believe this happened. I literally was talking to him 15 minutes prior to the accident, so it's crazy how things can happen so fast," she said.

As she prepares for a memorial service on base next week, now Cruz is just trying to wrap her head around the haunting thought that one of her best friends and confidants is gone forever. "It's just weird coming home and knowing he's not coming back," she said.
The Clark County coroner identified the second victim as 24-year-old Darren Tomas.

Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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