BRANDON — Kids in Tyler Stich's neighborhood knew him as the funny guy who loved to swim.
"He came to my neighborhood to swim every day. During the summer, after school, it was just the routine," said Selina Feliciano, 14, as she visited a makeshift memorial Saturday at the corner of S Kings Avenue and Coppertree Drive. "He was a daredevil. He even went swimming with his cast on."
The rugged, shoulder-high wooden cross, surrounded by flowers and balloons, was erected to honor Tyler, 17, a South County Career Center culinary arts student who died Friday in a single-vehicle crash.
He was one of seven young people riding in a 1998 Ford Explorer when the sport-utility vehicle overturned Friday afternoon. The driver, 16-year-old Mickael Kryder, rode off the shoulder of S Kings Avenue just south of Coppertree Circle and then overcorrected while trying to get back on the two-lane road, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
The SUV flipped — throwing Tyler from the back seat on the driver's side — and landed on its side, deputies said. Tyler died at the scene. Witnesses said investigators had to pull him from underneath the overturned SUV. None of the other youths were seriously hurt.
Edwin Ocasio, 17, a Riverview High junior, said he came to visit the memorial several times.
"I knew everyone in the car," he said. "Tyler liked to party and joke around. But he was still smart and knew his limits."
Bruce Joel Celis, 17, said of his friend: "He's very loving and he doesn't judge. I would see him everyday at his house."
Now Celis will have to see the memorial every day at the end of the street he calls home.
Evelyn Campbell, 63, Tyler's aunt, said the teen was loved by everyone — especially his 75-year-old grandmother.
"He was the apple of his grandmother's eye," Campbell said.
Tyler decided to take up culinary arts last year when he first enrolled at South County in Ruskin. "He'd cook up anything you put in front of him," Campbell recalled.
Most of his family lives in the Brandon area, so news of the crash spread quickly. Campbell was at the accident scene the day before. She returned on Saturday to lay flowers for her nephew.
"We came here to have prayer. A security guard who saw the accident yesterday came out here and prayed with us," Campbell said. "That's what we all need right now."