Mother of teen killed in Ohio State Fair accident breaks silence

Mother of teen killed in State Fair accident breaks silence
Tyler Jarrell's mom reflects on life and loss

Tyler Jarrell was an 18-year-old high school senior who just enlisted in the Marine Corps. His life was cut short when tragedy struck at the Ohio State Fair.

Seven others aboard the Fire Ball ride were injured when it came apart on July 26.

For the first time, Jarrell's family is speaking publicly.

Amber Duffield thought she knew her son Tyler.

"Quiet, very humble, very giving, had a great sense of humor," she said.

Just how humble and giving, she wouldn't learn until he was gone.

Tyler worked to earn his own money, but his pockets were always empty.

"How many times I got on him, for, 'How do you only have 5 dollars?' And I would give him twenty dollars because he needs gas in the truck."

At his visitation, she learned why.

"And then to find out the beauty of it was, he was getting people groceries. He was buying people's gas for their cars or getting their insurance paid. Taking food to them- all these things he was using his money for. I had no idea."

Her living room is a shrine to how highly people thought of her son. Respect earned through his involvement with the Columbus Police Explorer's program and ROTC.

Five days before his death, he enlisted in the United States Marines.

"He always said he wanted to protect. He wanted to protect."

He was fiercely focused on his future. His mother was proud but wary.

She never thought harm would find her son so close to home, a year before his duty date.

Glenn McEntyre: "Were you worried about him going to the fair?"
Amber Duffield: "Absolutely not. It's been a family tradition to go Opening Day since they could walk."

This year, Tyler went to the Ohio State Fair without the rest of the family, accompanied by his girlfriend Keziah Lewis.

Both were aboard the Fire Ball when it came apart, throwing them from the ride. Early reports from the fairgrounds had several injured, one dead.

"As the breaking news was on the TV I just stopped, and was like, 'That's Tyler.' I don't know why, I don't know how. I just said Jeff, that's Tyler. I just, I guess some would say a mother's intuition saying, you know that that was your child."

Confirmation came when police knocked on her door.

"You can't explain it. There's no explaining how you break. My stuffing came out. That's my term I use for that, for the brokenness of that."

Two and a half months later, she's still adjusting to the void.

"I won't see his beautiful face or hear his voice. I won't receive a text. I won't be giving out a 20 dollar bill because he's gotten himself down to 5 dollars. I won't be buying cinnamon pop tarts by the buckets from Sam's Club because that was his number one breakfast food."

And she's still trying to accept something that didn't have to happen.

"Disappointed I think might be a part of that. More than anger," she said. "Just in the whole process of how, how did it happen? You know, the hows?"

Tyler would have been a senior at Franklin Heights High School. Before next Friday's football game, his classmates will be honored at Senior NIght, and so will Tyler.

His friends and family will be selling wristbands with the message- "Finish for Tyler 2018."

The money they raise will pay for a remembrance for Tyler in the school's memorial garden.

"He should have been there. He should have been there. So we're going to represent him as best we can," said Duffield.

Helping her heal, are two things: Keeping her son's memory alive and having no regrets about the life he lived.

"Don't take things for granted. We took for granted, as he was walking out the door, shooing me off as I was telling him, 'Get there before 3 o'clock like we always do so it's cheaper,' we took for granted that we had later. Don't do that. Don't do that. Say it now, not later."

Duffield did not want to discuss anything to do with who was at fault, or potential liability. She has hired attorneys, who say they intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

She says it is her hope that change will come from this tragedy.

Jarrell's family and friends will be selling wristbands on October 20 starting at 5 p.m. at the Franklin Heights High School football field.

The family of Tyler Jarrell set up a GoFundMe account to create a scholarship in his name.You can click here for more information.

COMPLETE COVERAGE >> Tragedy at the Ohio State Fair