Family of boy killed in Chester Co. crash raises money for funeral

jzou@heraldonline.comJanuary 2, 2014 

— Family members of Tristan Gabriel Mericle have set up an online fundraiser to cover funeral expenses for the 7-year-old boy who died on New Year’s Eve.

Tristan, who had turned 7 just days before the fatal incident, was operating a motorized dirt bike when it collided with a tractor-trailer Tuesday afternoon near his father’s Great Falls home.

The boy died at the scene, according to Chester County Coroner Terry Tinker.

Tristan’s mother, Amy, described him as a boy who was always smiling, enjoyed the outdoors and loved to wrestle with his 4-year-old brother, Aydan James Wesler.

Tristan attended Mount Holly Elementary School in the Rock Hill district. He lived primarily with his mother, brother and stepfather in Fort Lawn and was visiting his father during the holidays.

“He really liked going to the library and telling me about the new books he got and reading to me,” his mother said tearfully.

Within a day of setting up a donation page on GoFundMe.com, the family had already raised more than $5,000 from friends and anonymous donors. The donation page has been shared more than 2,000 times on Facebook.

One donor wrote that her heart went out to the family and that a similar accident happened to her grandson several years ago. Several anonymous donors left anywhere from $10 to $200.

The family’s goal is to raise a total of $14,000, which will go toward Tristan’s final expenses and funeral arrangements.

Unlike other crowd-funding sites such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe’s policy states that reaching the target amount is not required to collect donations.

Family members described Tristan as an “entrepreneur” with a “smile that could sell snow to an Eskimo.” He spent his days fishing, hunting, singing along to country pop, and watching the South Carolina Gamecocks football team.

The state Highway Patrol is still investigating the collision, which involved a 26-year-old driver of a tractor-trailer who was traveling near Richburg and Great Falls roads.

Jie Jenny Zou •  803-329-4062

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