Family of boy whose only parent was killed in Belton trench collapse, vow to help him through life

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OAK GROVE, Mo. -- A family in eastern Jackson County is now trying to help a little boy left orphaned by yesterday's fatal trench collapse in Belton.

The eight year-old boy must deal the death of his father just a few years after his mom died.

It's hard helping an eight-year old understand the loss of a parent. That's what surviving members of D.J. Meyer family are faced with. When Meyer, the 33-year old plumber was killed in Thursday's trench collapse in Belton on Thursday, it left his second grade son, Ashten Meyer, unsure of how to accept the loss.

Two of D.J. Meyer's sisters, Kristena Mayes and Dani Lister, say Meyer was the perfect parent, raising his son as a single father, two years after the death of Ashten's mother, Meredith. The family says Meredith died suddenly after complications with blood clots.

“D.J. loved Ashten. Ashten was his top priority,” Lister, one of Meyer's four sisters, said.

“(Ashten) has no parents. He lost his mom two years ago, and now, he's lost his dad,” Mayes told FOX 4 News. “He doesn't understand. He doesn't understand why daddy can't come home. “

Family members are pouring in from out-of-state, in hopes of comforting the second grader. Mayes says her brother, the youngest of their parents’ five children, had been working as a plumber for almost a year. Rescue workers say as much as seven tons of dirt fell on him when that trench collapsed on Thursday.

“I’m worried about Ashten. I'm going to worry about him. He's gone through so much. It's like he's just getting over his mother's death,” Mayes said.

The loss grows worse since it's only a week-and-a-half until Christmas. Lister and Mayes say Ashten’s father hadn’t completed his shopping for the eight-year old yet, and was planning to purchase videogames and other gifts.

“Dad's not here to have Christmas with him. Dad's not here to be here for him when he wakes up and runs down the stairs to see what Santa left for him,” Lister said tearfully.

“My main concern is focusing on (Ashten) and making sure he's adjusting and that he can cope and not lose his sense of identity in this whole thing,” Mayes said.

The family says Ashten will remain in the Oak Grove area, and live with his grandmother. The family hopes to give him the best life possible. The family hasn't made funeral plans yet, and they're still awaiting results for Meyer's autopsy.

Meyer's loved ones have set up this crowdsourcing site, hoping to collect donations and Christmas presents for Ashten during a challenging time.