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TRAGEDY BEFORE THE STORM: Barnsdall teen dies in car crash 2 days before tornado

Tyson Townley
Posted at 5:47 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 19:45:39-04

BARNSDALL, Okla. — For one Barnsdall family, tragedy struck two days before the tornado ripped their community from the inside out. 15-year-old Tyson Townley was the lone victim in a car accident Saturday evening.

It’s hard for Stacey Harris and Steven Townley to believe that their boy is gone.

“It doesn’t feel real, it’s still hard to accept,” said Townley. “When you lose a child, that’s a whole different kind of hurt.”

Townley and Harris raced to the scene of the accident, only to be given the news no parent should ever have to hear.

Even through the deepest despair, Tyson's parents are leaning on their faith, and trusting in God’s plan. Even if they don’t understand it.

“I believe the good Lord is going to be with us, he’s going to give us strength, I’ve been praying strength, the whole town’s been praying strength for us,” said Townley. “It seems to be working a little bit, just going to take it one day at a time. And just not lose faith, that’s also a hard thing is just not losing the faith, and allowing God to do his work and us, maybe not to understand, but to trust.”

Instead of focusing on what happened to him, Harris said she chooses to focus on happy memories and how he spent his time on earth.

"Such a good ball player," said Townley. "This year I got to see him for the first time in I don’t know how long, or if It’s ever happened, that he got to catch for his brother on the mound one time and that was really special.”

The amount of people who have reached out to express their condolences has shocked Townley, and said it makes him proud to see how many people his son touched in his life.

And it's not lost on the Townley's that as they grieve their son, so many around them grieve too. Yet even amid so much tragedy, the Barnsdall community wraps their arms around the family however they can.

"Even with all of the devastation that the town is going through right now, they’re still rallying around us," said Harris. "They’re still making sure we’re okay, they’re still reminding us that it is 100% okay to still celebrate Tyson’s life, and no one expects or wants us to hold on his services or anything like that, they’re still wrapping their arms around us even with what they’re going through.”

From his passion for baseball to his love for playing with his little sisters, to following in every step of his older brother, Tyson's parents described him as always being there for the people he loved.

As they navigate an unthinkable range of emotions, Harris said they are trying to pave out their future by living as Tyson would.

"If Tyson were still here, he would tell us that we can’t hate, that we have to keep moving forward and that it’s okay,” she said.

2 News asked Tyson's parents if there was anything surrounding communities could do to support them.

"I think lots of prayers," Harris said.

"Strength," said Townley.

A family friend started a GoFundMe to help the family cover Tyson's funeral expenses.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

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