One of Baker City’s favorite community events turned tragic Saturday morning when a boy fell from a float in the Miners Jubilee parade and was killed when he was run over by the trailer on which he had been riding.
It was Dylan Thomas’ seventh birthday.
Emergency responders, some of whom were also in the parade, rushed to the Dylan’s aid. He was taken by ambulance to St. Alphonsus Medical Center, where he died.
The accident happened about 15 minutes after the parade started — in front of spectators who lined Second Street for the parade, a signature event of the annual Miners Jubilee.
Baker City Police Chief Wyn Lohner was at the front of the parade driving the department’s 2015 Dodge Challenger with his two grandsons, 6-year-old Olin and 3-year-old Lyle, riding with him and waving to the crowds lining the streets.
When the accident happened, Lohner said, police rerouted a portion of the parade. The remainder of the event was canceled.
Jeff Hale, who is a cousin of Dylan’s mother, Megan Thomas, said he drove straight to Baker City from his home in Christmas Valley when he learned about the accident.
Hale said several of Megan’s other relatives and friends have also traveled to Baker City, many of them coming from Medford, Klamath Falls and Portland.
“On behalf of the family I want to say how thankful we are to the community,” Hale said. “The support has been overwhelming. We thank you for your continued support and prayers. Baker City is a pretty special place.”
Dylan was riding on a float sponsored by the Baker County YMCA.
Hale said Dylan’s older sister, Kaydence, who’s 10, was with him on the float.
“It was just so traumatizing,” Hale said.
The YMCA’s board of directors issued a statement:
“The Baker County YMCA board of directors, employees and volunteers extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Dylan Thomas. We too feel the pain of your loss and our thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
A fund has been established at the Baker City Community Bank, and Hale set up a GoFundMe account, www.gofundme.com/dylan-thomas-memorial-fund/
An estimated 300 people attended a candlelight vigil Saturday night at the Baker County Courthouse lawn. Also on Saturday evening, donation buckets were distributed among the crowd at the bull riding competition.
The effort yielded $10,483 in cash and $1,000 in checks, said Kurt Miller, who with J.R. Streifel and others coordinated the fundraising effort.
Miller said he expects donations will rise, as several businesses and individuals have also pledged to help.
Also, the bull riding champion, Roscoe Jarboe of New Plymouth, Idaho, donated $1,000 of his $10,000 prize to Dylan’s family.
“It shows what a wonderful community we have,” Miller said. “Little kids were digging in their pockets.”