FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP — It was along Bronson Hill Road in Susquehanna County where State Police said Hurricane Sandy’s force took the life of an 8-year-old boy.
Matthew Stahl was in third grade and friends said he was as energetic as they come. Richard Hawk lives just down the road from the Stahls’ and has driven Matthew’s school bus a few times. He said he was driving home as emergency crews rushed up his road.
“I just assumed it was maybe a chimney fire, or wires down, or something on the road,” said Hawk.
Troopers said Matthew’s father was getting groceries from a neighbor around 5:30, and Stahl ran out to check on the family’s calves in the storm. When his dad told him to run inside, a gust of wind toppled a tree over onto Matthew, causing the fatal injuries.
“No parent wants that to happen, nobody. Freak accident, things happen. A lot of trees around here, a lot of wind, it could happen to anybody at any time,” said Hawk.
“He had his whole life ahead of him yet, only eight years old, and I feel sorry for the family,” said Chris Meyer, a neighbor.
The family belongs to the Bridgewater Baptist Church in Montrose, and many of its members have begun passing along their sympathies to family for the loss of their son.
Pastor Robert Kadlecick knew Matthew well, and his child, Ryan, 7, was friends with him. He said Matthew just wrote him this letter last week: “Thank you for being a Pastor, Pastor Bob, you`re very nice to me and Ryan. Can Ryan come over on Saturday? From, Matthew Stahl.”
“He’s just a sweet kid,” said Pastor Kadlecik.
He said the accident is hard for many of his church members to deal with, and even harder for Matthew’s father who saw it happen.
“He kept him warm until the first responders came. You know it`s a whole nightmare for them, but he kept him warm,” said Pastor Kadlecik.
A memorial fund is set up for Matthew at the Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains in Montrose. Anyone wishing to donate can send a check there, and the donations will be used for a charitable purpose.
Calling hours for Matthew will be Friday evening at Bartron Funeral Home in Montrose, with a funeral service Saturday.