“Tyler will always be remembered for his loving, caring personality and gentle soul.”
It was a typical Fourth of July Weekend on Ottertail Lake: hot dogs on the grill, fireworks across the water, friends, and family laughing and soaking up the Minnesota sun. But on July 6th, 2019, what began as a celebratory weekend with loved ones ended in tragedy.
In the early morning hours, 21-year-old Tyler Wohlers was walking home with friends along Highway 78 between Battle Lake and Ottertail. In the dark, Tyler tripped and fell into the northbound lane, where he was fatally struck. The driver did not stop.
Tyler’s sudden passing devastated his friends and family and sent shockwaves through his small hometown of Wahpeton, North Dakota. Everyone who knew Tyler wondered how their son, brother, and friend, who loved hunting and fishing and all kinds of sports, could be taken so soon.
“Tyler will always be remembered for his loving, caring personality and gentle soul,” read his obituary. “He was the one to lend a hand or ear to anyone who needed it.”
In the wake of the crash, Tyler’s friends decided that something needed to be done to prevent another life from being cut short on that dangerous stretch of road. A GoFundMe page for the Tyler Wohlers Memorial Walking Path was created on June 17, 2020, nearly a year after Tyler’s death.
“Our hope is to give Ottertail a safe walking path that everyone can enjoy,” fundraiser organizers wrote. “The project will be along Highway 78 on the west side from the intersection near First National Bank to Pelican Bay Public Water Access on Ottertail Lake.”
Tyler’s memorial path has been approved by the city of Ottertail and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, with an estimated total cost of $210,000. Fundraiser organizers hoped to raise at least $75,000 for the walking path, and while the GoFundMe received immediate and overwhelming support from the community, Tyler’s friends and family knew they would need some extra help.
So, they made a wish.
“Our hope is to give Ottertail a safe walking path that everyone can enjoy.”
Through the Wishing Well Program, Choice Bank has donated $1,000 for the Tyler Wohlers Memorial Walking Path—and we are not alone. As of October 2020, the fundraiser has surpassed its goal with over $76,000 raised by almost 500 donors.
While construction on the Tyler Wohlers Memorial Walking Path has yet to begin, his loved ones have faith that this project will make Ottertail a safer place for all, and most importantly, honor Tyler’s beautiful life. This excerpt from the GoFundMe page says it best:
“No parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt/uncle, friend, teammate, etc. should have to experience such a tragedy. Tyler was a light to all he came into contact with due to his kind demeanor and contagious smile. He was a loving child, grandchild, and nephew. A proud and caring older brother. A funny, supportive, and honest friend. Tyler knew the true meaning of friendship and anyone who had the chance to be his friend is forever impacted. We were all so lucky to have such a light in our lives.”