Church community remembers four-year-old killed at Maymont - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Church community remembers four-year-old killed at Maymont

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Shawn T. Wills (Courtesy: The Pentecostals of Richmond) Shawn T. Wills (Courtesy: The Pentecostals of Richmond)
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

It was a heartbreaking day in Richmond as we learned more about the four-year-old boy killed when a tree fell on him during Thursday night's storm at Maymont. Four-year-old Shawn Wills of Chesterfield died. His father was injured.

Shawn's dad, John, had surgery at VCU Medical Center Friday and was listed in fair condition.

Saturday, Maymont will reopen for the first time since the storm. Friends and family will gather there to remember young Shawn Wills.

This is a situation that brings grown men to tears.

"All we know is that every day that Shawn was here was a gift," the Pentecostals of Richmond Administrative Pastor Jason Forbush said, choking back tears. "Every day that we got to spend time with him was a joy."

Forbush describes Shawn as someone who would lighten your day and was always quick with a high-five or fist bump.

"Already at four-years-old, had a sense of humor, already was trying to make you laugh," he recalled.

The loss of such a young life is heartbreaking to begin with, but the freak accident that caused it makes it unbearable for the Wills and their church family. Almost immediately the Chesterfield residents turned to that family for strength. It is struggling to make sense of the senseless.

Pastor Forbush explains John and his two sons were visiting Maymont Thursday when the skies darkened. Shawn's older brother saw the tree start to tremble and ran out of the way. His father and young Shawn weren't able to move fast enough.

"I can't understand it," Forbush lamented. "None of us can understand it. We can't wrap our minds around the tragedy that this is."

The timing couldn't be worse. The pastor isn't sure how the Wills will make it through this weekend when the family is supposed to be celebrating Father's Day. He hopes the tragedy serves as a lesson for all.

"All I know is last night I went home to my two-year-old boy and I squeezed him tight and I made sure I told God I won't take it for granted, I won't," Forbush sobbed.

Maymont staff is working with the church to coordinate the vigil.

It will be Saturday at 4:30 p.m. It is open to the public. Those who want to attend can meet directly behind the nature and visitor center, near where the tree fell.

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