COON RAPIDS, Minn. (WCCO) — Wiping away the tears before the bitter cold froze them to his cheek, Bruce Chivers honored his grandson, 13-year-old Chason J. Catchings Chivers Jr., at the site where so many others had done the same.
“It was just a mistake on his part, and we’re gonna miss him,” Chivers said.
Not long after trudging through snow to a fence line along a train track were balloons, teddy bears, and cards.
Friday evening, investigators said Chivers Jr., who went by CJ, and another boy went to the tracks at the intersection of 119th Avenue Northwest and Northdale Boulevard Northwest.
They said CJ tried to beat a train by crossing the tracks as it approached, but he was hit and died.
“When you lose a loved one like that, it’s very hard to even put it into perspective because you’re trying to process it all,” Chivers said.
Susan Catchings, CJ’s maternal grandmother, shared the same sentiment.
She flew in from Arizona right after hearing the heart wrenching news of her grandson’s death.
“The toughest part for me as a grandmother has been seeing my daughter and son-in-law so completely broke and nothing I can do to fix it,” she said.
Since Friday night, Catchings said, love, support, and sympathy from people has been plentiful. Many have dropped by the family home with food or just to share hugs and a shoulder to cry on.
“Which is probably what we need the most of right now,” Catchings said.
Their family is now leaning on fond memories of CJ, who they described as a typical 13-year-old boy who enjoyed sports like basketball and baseball, and was also a good student.
“Everybody that knew CJ knew he was full of smiles. He loved life, he loved his family,” she said.
But Catchings said they’re also recognizing their new, painful reality; one they hope other families don’t have to endure.
“We have to keep in mind again, every 13-year-old kid thinks they’re invincible. But as parents and grandparents, remember that and maybe we can teach them a little bit more common sense,” she said.
Catchings said her grandson will be honored Tuesday at Coon Rapids Middle School during the Christmas concert. He played trumpet and they will leave a seat open in his memory. There will also be a moment of silence.
A GoFundMe page was started to help CJ’s family with his funeral arrangements. If you’d like to help, click here.