INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — This year, it’s been a Christmas one family would like to forget. They’re grieving after their loved one was killed in a car crash on Christmas.
It happened in Independence, near Truman and Crysler Avenue where a memorial is now set up.
Tyler Kelley’s mom said she feels robbed and is shattered. She didn’t get to say goodbye or tell him she loved him, not knowing it would be the last Christmas they would spend together.
“It’s the worst tragedy my family’s experienced, ever,” Uncle Jeff Kelley said. “I mean, one minute you’re celebrating with him and then he’s gone.”
He said Kelley was headed home from his grandparents’ house at about 8 p.m. Christmas.
The 26-year-old lost control of the vehicle crossed Truman road and hit a tree and a parked car, according to Independence police.
Friends said he was just two minutes from home when he hit a patch of black ice.
“I love you bud,” friend Brianna Fultz said.
Police said both speed and poor road conditions likely contributed to the crash. Kelley was not wearing a seatbelt.
“Remember to buckle up and drive slowly,” Jeff said.
They remember Tyler as a teddy bear, who loved Long John Silvers, the Chiefs and making people laugh.
“Anytime he walked into a room he was just like a light of joy,” Julia Smith said.
“When you’re having a bad day, he was the person that everyone went to for advice or just a hug,” Fultz said. “Now everyone at the house we’re hoping he’s walking through the door and he’s not walking through the door.”
His uncle said the 26-year-old had a huge heart. He was ready to make a big commitment in May.
Tyler proposed to his girlfriend on Christmas Eve, just one day before he passed.
“He was lucky to find love in his life. Now he’s more alive than all of us,” Jeff said. “He’s in heaven.”
Jeff said Tyler was baptized last year. He said Tyler loved working with people who had special needs, and stuffed animals at the memorial are from kids who knew him as Uncle Ty Ty.
This family said Christmas will never be the same, but they have faith to give them strength in moving forward.
Friends said, “your wings were ready, but our hearts were not.”
“Families, make sure you tell your families you love them every day,” Jeff said. “Never take life for granted.”