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By Lexington Howe
Staff Writer 

O'Laughlin needs help to get to Oklahoma


Last updated 2/10/2021 at 4:26pm

Joel O’Laughlin

Village News/Courtesy photo

Joel O'Laughlin poses with his dog, Scooter, who has been O'Laughlin's faithful companion for six years.

Fallbrook resident Joel O'Laughlin lost his brother last year in an accident.

Last February, O'Laughlin's younger brother, Shawn O'Laughlin, died in a vehicle accident, and left behind the love of his life and three young daughters in Oklahoma.

O'Laughlin was devastated by the news.

"I was shocked when my mom got the phone call," O'Laughlin said. "I could tell by her face; I was like, what the hell happened, and mom didn't want to tell me."

O'Laughlin had called his brother the night before he died.

"The last couple words were 'I love you and I'll see you soon,' and then boom, this happens," O'Laughlin said.

He wanted to get on a plane right then.

"The crazy part is, before the corona stuff, I could fly out there," O'Laughlin said. His mom, Susan Cowgill, told her son she'd make sure he was able to go out and see his family.

O'Laughlin has cerebral palsy and needs a mobility van to help him get there.

"MobilityWorks is going to give us a discount on the van," Cowgill said. "I've got a little house called the little house on the prairie that's 15 minutes away from Billings, (Oklahoma). Their town has got 500 people in it."

Cowgill has it planned out. "So, what I'm going to have to do is him and his electric chair will ride in this ability van and then in the truck we have to carry the hoyer – it's the transfer to put you in the electric chair," she said. "Then we have to take his recliner, he can't lay flat."

Cowgill is planning on having help from her sister and Joel's caretaker.

Joel O’Laughlin

Village News/Courtesy photo

Joel O'Laughlin is looking forward to going back to Oklahoma to see family.

"I'm excited," O'Laughlin said. "I don't know whose more excited cause my sister's excited, my nieces and nephews are excited, that I'm coming back.

"I'm just shocked that I can finally go back, have a good time and help other people out, and it's just amazing," O'Laughlin added.

Cowgill added that the trip is about having a good time after grieving for so long.

"That's what our trip is all about, getting back there and making everyone happy and that's what we're going to do," Cowgill said.

The family hopes to leave soon, but needs help raising funds to get there. To help, donate at

"It's really just for him to get there and get him in a good situation," Cowgill said. "It's just really important to Joel."

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at [email protected]


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