EVANSTON — The world can shatter in an instant.
The Evanston community was reminded of that this week when 2-year-old Niko Ringer was tragically killed after he darted into the street in front of a truck driven by an unidentified 19-year-old male at approximately 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10.
Twenty-four hours later, on Wednesday, Aug. 11, hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil at the corner of 6th Street and Morse Lee, where the accident occurred, to remember a loving little boy taken too soon and to support those whose lives will never be the same.
According to Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Matt Arnell, the accident was just that — a “horrible set of circumstances” that resulted in unimaginable loss. Shortly before the accident, the boy’s parents — Tosha Scott and Aube Ringer — had taken a dirty diaper outside to the garbage, and now suspect the door hadn’t shut securely when they went back inside. Niko had been playing in the living room of his home in the area when he was momentarily left unattended, said Arnell. In those moments, the boy must have slipped out the door and into the street, directly in the path of the oncoming truck.
Arnell said the driver never saw the boy coming as it is believed he darted out from behind some shrubbery. The teen driver realized he had hit something and stopped, immediately calling 911 when he saw the boy. Arnell said a jogger who was in the area and witnessed the accident didn’t realize it was a child who was struck until he got closer to the scene.
An ambulance that was en route to Evanston Regional Hospital to pick up a patient for transfer to Utah came upon the accident just after it happened, said Arnell — so abruptly the driver had to hit the brakes to avoid again hitting the boy in the fading light of day. The ambulance crew quickly jumped out to care for him but discovered there was nothing they could do to save the child.
Though the incident is still under investigation and law enforcement have recovered the engine control module from the truck and the driver’s cellphone, Arnell said there is no indication that distraction, impairment or speed were factors in the accident.
As the community gathered on Wednesday night, music played softly in the background while family, friends and strangers shaken by the loss created a memorial to the round-faced blonde-haired boy smiling from picture frames on a candlelit table. Tonka trucks. Teddy bears. Balloons. Flowers. A dinosaur. An Evanston Police Department patch.
Few words were spoken as adults and children alike hugged one another and tears flowed.
Friends of the family who organized the vigil — Samantha Brumme, Amanda Oliver, Shelby Hutcherson, Marty Hawkins and KC Taylor — said the outpouring of love from the community has been overwhelming. Businesses including Walmart, Smith’s, The Posey Shoppe and High Country Behavioral Health donated vigil supplies, funds and services to support those grieving through every parent’s worst nightmare. Brumme said they also wanted to acknowledge the support of the Evanston Police Department, Uinta County Sheriff’s Office and Wyoming Highway Patrol.
A fund called “For the Benefit of Niko” to help the family with funeral expenses has been established at Trona Valley Credit Union and is accepting donations.
Close friend of the family Kristina Brumme said only-child Niko liked to garden with his parents; being outside; playing with toy trucks, cars, dinosaurs and balloons; McDonald’s Happy Meals and loved his mom very much.
Speaking briefly at the vigil, Samantha Brumme thanked the community for the support and urged everyone to hug those they love a little tighter and care for one another, because the unthinkable can happen without any warning.
Then, with the simple words, “For Niko,” everyone raised their candles in silence toward the heavens.
Sometimes there just aren’t any other words to say.