12-Year-Old Victim of Freak Accident Is Laid to Rest | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

12-Year-Old Victim of Freak Accident Is Laid to Rest

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    More than 1,000 people filled a Garland church Monday to say goodbye to a boy killed by a falling tree.

    The tree struck Matthias Berhanu, 12, while he was sitting on a bench at Sky Ranch, an outdoor learning camp in Van, on Wednesday.

    Matthias was on a three-day field trip with 47 other sixth-graders from Springridge Elementary School in Richardson.

    He was flown via helicopter to Children's Medical Center in Dallas, where he died less than two days later.

    Family members said news of the freak accident was difficult to fathom.

    "Apparently it came from behind him, so he never really stood a chance," said Gelila Berhanu, his older sister.

    Loved ones said Matthias was independent, selfless and intelligent.

    "Good kid -- he served the church, good soccer player, made good grades," Berhanu said.

    Family members, friends, classmates and soccer teammates in red shirts with a picture of Matthias attended the funeral at St. Michael's Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

    Church leaders and mourners prayed and chanted that Matthias be sent to a better place.

    "God can protect him better than I can," his sister said.

    Family members said they were touched by the amount of support they received from friends and neighbors.

    But they said Matthias' sudden death was hard to cope with, especially for his parents.

    "It's tough," Berhanu said. "It's their only son. He's the youngest one and because he's so good, he never puts himself in harm's way. You never expect for something like that to happen."

    The family is now searching for answers to what it calls a senseless death.

    "I know that somebody needs to take responsibility for it," Berhanu said. "My understanding was that it was a dead tree and it shouldn't have been there, or the kids shouldn't have been there," his sister said. "We can accept it, and we'll give him to God, but I don't think we'll ever move on from it."

    Sky Ranch is looking into the incident.

    "The Sky Ranch family is deeply saddened at the passing of Matthias Berhanu," Rick Hutton said in a statement. "All of us at Sky Ranch send our condolences to Matthias’ family and friends. We pray that the Lord gives Matthias’ family strength and solace during their time of grief."

    Counselors will available at the Springridge Elementary School when students return to classes from Christmas break on Jan. 5.