For Tim and Liz Thorne, of Iola, the loss of their son Dylan in a car accident remains as heart-wrenching today as it was on July 19, 2012.
Nine months have gone by since Dylan passed away, and the Thornes are frustrated with the legal process.
According to the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office, 37-year-old Heather Schmidt, Marion, was northbound on County Road E near Smith Road in the town of St. Lawrence when her Chevy Suburban crossed the center line and struck a southbound Mercury Grand Marquis driven by the teen.
The coroner pronounced Thorne dead at the scene.
“The investigation has been completed, and the file has been sent to the DA’s office requesting charges be filed. I hope to see the charges filed soon,” Waupaca County Sheriff Brad Hardel said.
“Where is the justice?” asks Liz. “We were told that it could be long and drawn out, but we feel like we are not any closer. She has not been charged with anything at this point. She is walking free, yet we are sentenced to life without Dylan.”
Dylan, remembered as a fun-loving, energetic young man, had just graduated from Iola-Scandinavia High School on May 27, 2012. He was a member of the football, basketball and track teams. The football team had become his extended family.
He was also planning to start the next chapter of his life.
On the morning of July 19, Dylan passed his placement exam for technical school, where he intended to study criminal justice. On that same day, Dylan left his house on his way to work, when he was killed in a head-on collision.
Liz reflects for a moment on the events of that day.
“Tim and I were camping up in Hayward at Chippewa Campground. We had gone up there that Saturday and everything was going good. Thursday came around, we were getting ready to fry fish. About 3 p.m. in the afternoon, I got a text from my boss. Jokingly I said to Tim, I bet I got my pink slip,” she recalls.
Due to poor reception Liz had to situate herself just right to call her boss back.
“My boss told me that the Waupaca County sheriff was trying to get a hold of me. Tim had a gut feeling that something was wrong,” she said.
Her voice cracking from emotion, she said, “I called Brad Hardel. I cannot remember everything I was told. He asked a few questions and if Tim was with me. Brad said, ‘I hate to do this over the phone, but under the circumstances, I have no choice. Dylan’s been in an accident and he is gone.'”
Tim grabbed the phone and the call was dropped. Screaming, Liz ran to throw up.
“Everyone in the campground knew something was going on,” Liz said. “People came running to see what was wrong. My first thought was, ‘Oh my god where is Derek.'”
Derek, the Thorne’s oldest son, was at home in Iola, a four hour drive away from them.
The next few days for the Thornes are somewhat of a blur. Friends and neighbors came by to offer them comfort.
“Without them I don’t think we could have made it,” she said.
She points out Dylan’s extended family; the football team. “His team meant the world to him. They were like brothers.”
And on the day to say their final good-byes, his team, along with other former football players, gathered for one last huddle with Dylan.
In a gym packed to capacity, they formed a huddle, and did their post game chant, “What are T-Birds, Tough Men, What, Tough men. Ahhhh.”
They stood, formed a line in front of Dylan’s casket, some with tears in their eyes, and the casket was closed behind them.
Now the Thornes have decided to focus their efforts on healing, while preserving the memory of their son.
“We have decided to hold the Dylan John Thorne Memorial Ride. This way we can focus our efforts on something positive and give back to the communities that have been there for us throughout this,” Liz said.
The Dylan John Thorne Memorial Ride will take place on Sunday, July 21, rain or shine. Motorcycles, classic cars, all vehicles are welcome.
Sign in will begin at 8:30 a.m. at Silver Lake Lanes in Scandinavia. The ride will depart at 10:30 a.m.
Activities will take place at the bowling alley during the ride. The cost of the ride is $20 per person, $25 per couple with an additional charge for extra riders. The price includes a meal following the ride.
Proceeds from the ride will be directed toward the future construction of the Dylan John Thorne Memorial Locker Rooms and track at Thunderbird Field in Scandinavia.
“We are hoping to raise as much money as we can,” Tim said. “We will continue to raise money until the project is done.”
The estimated cost of the project is between $300,000 and $500,000.
The ride will start out at Silver Lake Lanes in Scandinavia and will include stops at White Tail Lanes in Amherst and Wild Rose Pioneer Pub, where lunch will be provided for a small fee. The route will also pass by the scene of the accident.
To register in advance, call 715-445-2898 or visit http://dylanjohnthornememorialride.weebly.com.
A nine pin tournament, raffle and silent auctions will take place throughout the day, with music provided by John Andersen Entertainment.
Organizers of the event are looking for cash donations in addition to donations of raffle prizes. Anyone wishing to donate can contact Tina at 715-445-4471 or Steve at 715-256-4148.
Monetary donations may be made directly to the Dylan John Thorne Memorial Fund at any Premier Community Bank location.