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Community gathers for birthday candlelight vigil in memory of Holmes County teen

Clint and Misty Erickson thought they would be lighting birthday candles Wednesday for their son’s 18th birthday. Instead, hundreds of flames burned at a candlelight vigil to celebrate the life of Tyler Erickson.

“I am overwhelmed by the support the community has given us in so many ways,” said Clint Erickson. “With the amount of grief we have gone through it doesn’t get rid of it, but it helps ease the pain a lot.”

About 350 people gathered for the vigil as the sun was setting on Dogwood Lakes Golf Course. Tyler had been playing golf on that very course 48 hours prior and was found deceased at hole 6 just after 6 p.m. Monday.

The Ericksons found their son through the location of his phone when Tyler didn’t come home as expected. That’s when they found Tyler unresponsive in the golf cart.

Erickson said his family seems to have felt all the stages of grief in two days.

“My wife today went through the sorrow state and the mad state and all those states of emotion; it’s just natural you go through all of them,” Erickson said. “The community support really lessens the blow and makes it a lot easier.”

Friends, family and classmates of Tyler settled on the lawn behind the clubhouse to hear friend Noah Brannon, golf coach Todd Flanary, and Erickson share memories of Tyler.

“Tyler had an amazing impact on all of our lives in so many ways,” Brannon said with a strained voice. “He was genuinely one of my best friends.”

Brannon recounted how Tyler was an athlete, fisherman, weightlifter, singer, dancer, musician, goofball, nerd and a best friend.

Tyler had it all.

He had the love and support of an entire crowd who lit candles and sent off lanterns into a blue and tangerine dusk.

The community then sang “Happy Birthday” to Tyler along with his family.

Erickson said he and his wife have learned a lot more about who their son was in two days as people have shared anecdotes and they have sorted through Tyler’s personal belongings.

“As a parent, you think you know a lot of things but with Tyler after his death a lot of stuff was revealed to me that I was totally blown away with,” Erickson said.

Erickson feels comfort knowing his son accepted Christ a year-and-a-half ago.

“My wife and family’s strength through God has helped us a lot, but the support of the community has been overwhelming,” Erickson said. “I just want to say ‘thank you’ to our community.”

Check back for our full story online and in the Sept. 21 print edition.

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