Candlelight vigil

Shauna Mullins, the mother of 12-year-old Dylan Tyler Mullins, hugs one of her son’s classmates following a candlelight vigil for her son at Betsy Layne Elementary on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, community members said goodbye to a 12-year-old Betsy Layne Elementary student who died after crashing his dirt bike on a public roadway last weekend.

The people who knew and loved Dylan Mullins honored his memory at the school with music, prayer, poems and fellowship.

They gathered in a circle in the school gym and lit candles, one by one, to symbolize that love and a life that was cut short too soon.

The candlelight vigil was initially planned to be held in the school’s parking lot on Wednesday, but it was moved inside because it was raining.

BLES Vice Principal Ebony Doderer reported seeing a double rainbow above the school as she walked into the building. Another rainbow stretched across the hillside opposite of the school, near U.S. 23, before the service started.

Among the speakers was Dylan’s mother, Shauna Mullins of Teaberry, who thanked the community for their prayers and support and talked about how much her son loved going to school. She spoke directly to some of her son’s closest friends, telling them how much he cared for them.

The crash occurred after 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, on the Dry Branch area of Little Mud Creek.

The Kentucky State Police reported that Dylan crashed his dirt bike into a pickup truck while traveling on the public roadway. Kentucky State Police Spokesperson Trooper William Petry reported this week that Dylan was likely not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

He said on Thursday that the preliminary investigation indicates that Dylan was turning off the roadway and crossed the truck’s path. 

The name of the driver has not been released and Petry said the investigation is still ongoing. He said toxicology reports are still pending. 

Petry said that parents should understand that it is illegal to operate an unregistered dirt bike or ATV on a public roadway, without a license or registration on the vehicle. Kentucky laws prohibit the use of ATVs on public roads, barring a few exceptions like those allowing the crossing of some roads. State laws also prohibit children and adults age 21 and under from riding or operating a motorcycle on a public roadway without a helmet in Kentucky. 

One Floyd County resident, Kathy Friend, referenced those laws after she attended the service at BLES on Wednesday.

She said she hopes this tragedy sheds light on the need for better enforcement of those laws in Floyd County. She reported seeing two children, without helmets, riding on the back of an ATV on a public roadway when she was driving to the service that evening. Friend, a former teacher who was in tears after the vigil, said she came to the service because she is a concerned citizen. She said she regularly sees children riding ATVs without helmets where she lives and she worries about their safety.

Dylan’s funeral was held Thursday at the River of Life Freewill Baptist Church in Grethel.

He was buried in the Mullins Family Cemetery at Cowpen in Pikeville.

BLES is offering grief counselors to help students who are coping with his death. Doderer said any person in need of that help may reach out to the school on Facebook this summer. Grief counselors will also be available during the first week of school this fall, she said.

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