Look, the dangers of texting while driving are well-documented. It was only earlier this year that a Texas college student texted about needing to stop texting lest he die in a car accident right before he drove himself off a cliff. Miraculously, he survived.
21-year-old Ervin McKinness wasn’t as lucky.
McKinness, an aspiring rapper from Southern California, was also on his phone prior to the fatal car crash that killed him and four of his friends over Labor Day weekend in Ontario, Calif. The 2005 Nissan Sentra, the San Bernardino County Sun reports, ran a red light and crashed into a wall.
Just minutes before the crash, at 1:19 a.m. on Sept. 2, McKinness posted a tweet to his account @ink2flashyy that is now filled with cruel irony:
At 1:20 a.m., McKinness reportedly sent out one last tweet: “Driving tweeting sipping the cup f— yolo I’m turning it up.”
YOLO stands for “You Only Live Once,” and was first popularized by singer Drake in his song “The Motto.” And as McKinness discovered, Drake is right—you do only live once.
According to his friends, the Sun reports, McKinness, who also went by “Inkyy” and “Jew’elz,” either had signed or was about to sign with a major label record company. The rapper’s sister has since taken over his Twitter account, the Daily Mail reports, and she’s been defending McKinness, saying he was not the driver of the vehicle that night.
In fact, Ontario police says that McKinness’ friend Jonathan Watson, 21, was actually the driver, according to the Huffington Post. Police told the Sun it’s still too early to say whether the crash was a result of drunken driving.
YOLO has spread like wildfire beyond hip hop via social media — heartthrob Zac Efron even had it tattooed on his hand, in a textbook example of ill-advised YOLOism — although many of the olds may not know what it means. As the Washington Post put it, YOLO “is sort of a teen interjection for ‘Carpe Diem’” — albeit one that can endorse or excuse risky behavior. “When I see “YOLO” in a tweet, I know instantly that something unintelligent and cocky is going to follow,” wrote Robyn Dexter, campus editor of the Eastern Illinois University’s Daily Eastern News, as quoted in the Post:
“There’s nothing wrong with taking risks in life and trying new things. I’m totally for that. But there’s a fine line between living your life to the fullest and making spur-of-the-moment, completely irrational decisions.”
As for McKinness, we may never know if he or the others in that car knew where that line was when they crossed it.