Irene Vanderbie looks on, at the tree 17 year old Patrick Wiltse crashed into late Thursday night. The crash was so severe, he didn’t survive.
“This is tragic. You know, my son just turned 18, and I can’t imagine losing him. So very sad,” she said.
Vanderbie said, “Patrick was a nice boy, nice boy. I’ve seen him grow with my son, ya know.”
Her son is taking the loss hard tonight. The boy they met at age 5 was now a high school senior at Hudsonville High School. Hudsonville Public Schools superintendent says grief counselors were on hand to console students and staff today.
A week short of his 18th birthday, Ottawa County sheriff’s deputies say the Walker teen was driving down Van Buren Street in Blendon Township, near Hudsonville. He was driving too fast, detectives say.
They aren’t sure what caused him to leave the road, but he lost control, slammed into a tree, and was ejected from the vehicle. Deputies say he was wearing his seatbelt and the airbag deployed.
“I’m convinced. He must have swerved not to hit a deer,” Vanderbie said.
A wrecker crew spent the morning picking up the pieces of what’s left in the field. A cousin at the scene who was overcome with emotion said he was supposed to spend Thursday with Wiltse. That’s the last day he was alive.
Family and friends may never know what caused Wiltse to leave the road. Vanderbie says she just wanted to see where his last moments were spent for herself. “I’m so sad, for the family. My heart goes out to all of them,” she said.
Deputies are waiting for toxicology reports, which is standard procedure.