Crash victim's mom: 'I wish it was me instead of him'

Family of National Guardsman struggling after fatal crash

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a National Guardsman killed in a crash on the Southside last week is struggling just to bury him.

Tyler Mapel, 21, was killed by a driver who Florida Highway Patrol troopers said ran a red light.

Christian Summers, 26, the man investigators believe is responsible for the crash, is still in the hospital.

Mapel's mother, Cami Mapel, said the last week has been hell for her family.

“I don’t know what’s going on with the other person. Does he know that he killed my son?” she said.

Cami Mapel said the loss of her son hasn’t really sunk in yet.

“I think I’m dreaming. I think I’ll wake up and see my son,” she said. “I don’t want to come to terms that he’s gone. But I know he’s in heaven with his dad."

Cami Mapel lives in Pennsylvania and immediately flew to Jacksonville after she learned her son was killed in a crash at Beach and Kernan boulevards while he was out delivering pizzas.

According to the crash report, Mapel was driving west on Beach about 12:45 a.m. when he tried to make a left-hand turn onto Kernan Boulevard in his Kia Rio. Troopers said Summers, driving a Ford Mustang heading east, ran the red light and hit Mapel's car head-on.

Troopers said they suspect Summers might have been under the influence when he ran the red light, but no charges have been filed yet.

Cami Mapel said she went to the car lot Wednesday where her son bought his car to settle up the financing. While she was there, the owner showed her an image of Tyler captured on surveillance video when he happened to stop by the lot not long before the crash. 

“I could feel him. I miss him.  I miss him so much,” Cami Mapel said. “I wish it was me instead of him.”

The family plans to lay Tyler to rest Saturday at noon at Quinn-Shalz funeral home on 3rd Street South in Jacksonville Beach.

Cami Mapel said her family is struggling to afford the funeral and has been forced to set up a bank account at Navy Federal Credit Union and a GoFundMe page to help pay for the unexpected funeral.

“It’s just been financially tough. You never think you’d have to bury your son,” she said. “It’s just been hard, really hard.”

The funeral is open to the public.

To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/y9v2c4b8 or contribute to the In Memory of Tyler Mapel account at Navy Federal Credit Union.

About the Authors: