Hundreds of students, family and friends gathered last night at the intersection of Mermaid and Breakers Drives in Ocean Acres where a 15-year-old was killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident over the weekend.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the area where many of Chris Wildes close friends and classmates gathered. A makeshift memorial was set up with balloons, flowers, candles, teddy bears and other items on the front lawn of a home which was the scene of the deadly crash. Many in the crowd wore specially made shirts in Wildes favorite color of blue.

The tragedy began Friday night when Wildes was riding as a passenger on an ATV with an unidentified driver. They were heading down Mermaid Drive when they lost control, hit a curb, cut across the lawn of one house before ending up in the street across the way. Wildes was thrown from the vehicle and suffered devastating injuries. He was taken to AtlanticCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City with a broken back, collapsed lung, severe brain damage and other horrifying injuries.



The driver of the ATV was treated for minor injuries at Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin. Several police units and ambulances responded to the scene Friday night a little after 10:30. The last emergency vehicle left around 2 a.m. and the investigation soon began. Details are a little sketchy and police won’t release the name of the ATV driver who has not been charged.

During last night’s emotional ceremony, one of Wildes’ best friends Clayton Whitcraft read from a speech he wrote. Hundreds cried during it while Whitcraft tried to fight back tears.

He says he will never forget hearing the school principal over the loudspeaker Monday morning making the announcement that Wildes was dead.

“It’s a horrible thing to come to cope with, because our school, town and we will never be the same,” Whitcraft said.

A viewing will be held 12 to 2 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Barnegat Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held at noon Friday at St. Mary’s Church in Barnegat.