by: Mark Becker Updated:
CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. - A family is mourning the loss of a 7-year-old killed riding his dirt bike in Chester County.
Tristan Gabriel Mericle was riding on Chester Highway in Great Falls when his dirt bike collided with a tractor-trailer being driven by 26-year-old Matthew Wilkens around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Neighbors told Eyewitness News they saw Mericle riding his new dirt bike in and out of his driveway just before the accident.
They said they don't know if he ever saw the truck coming.
"That was the (most awful) thing I've ever seen in my life," said Michael Brunson. The collision happened in front of his house, and Brunson said it shook him to the core.
"If you have kids, you better hug them," he said.
Wayne Brazzell, a resident in the area, said he has seen many boys riding dirt bikes along the highway but no one saw Tuesday's accident coming and Mericle's death has left them stunned.
"We're people of faith. We believe he's in a better place but other than that, nobody wants to go through this," Michael Brunson said.
The highway patrol said their investigation is still not finished and they do not know if any charges will be filed.
The accident closed the highway for several hours while troopers investigated.
Mericle's family declined to comment on the accident.
To see more local news stories, click here.
7-year-old killed in Chester Co. riding new dirt bike
1-year-old struck in hit-and-run in north Charlotte, officials say
Body found in Rock Hill ID'd as missing Uber driver, police say
Documents: Man tried to bite flight attendant before jumping out of plane
Reports: Comey knew Clinton email info was fake, created by Russia