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45 minutes after call, a Fargo mom loses her son

Tyler Tweten

Michelle Tweten last spoke to her son Tyler on the phone late Friday night when checking on him.

He was planning to stay over at a friend's house that night after attending a bonfire.

Tyler found a ride. The driver was a friend of a friend.

But the 17-year-old Fargo youth never made it to the sleepover.

Forty-five minutes after speaking with his mother, a few minutes after 1 a.m. Saturday, Tyler was involved in a fatal accident that injured two others.

Their car slid off a street in north Fargo and struck a tree. Tyler was a backseat passenger and wore a seatbelt, his mother said.

Yet he was the only one in the carload of four who didn't survive the accident.

On Sunday, as well-wishers stopped by her house, Michelle Tweten and other family members grieved their loss and pondered life's sad mysteries.

But they also celebrated the life of a son and brother who showed promise as an artist and always thought of others.

"Tyler was so full of love," his maternal grandmother, Patricia Peters, said. "Always giving."

Once, when his mother and grandmother were feeling down, he cheered them up by clowning around, mimicking a rap song with lyrics appreciating women with big behinds, augmenting his own with a pillow.

"He came out dancing and made us laugh," Peters said. "He loved to make people happy."

He excelled at "Guitar Hero" and other video games and had a knack for entertaining his friends by performing tricks with his baseball cap.

But drawing was perhaps his greatest talent. He left behind a sketchbook of unfinished drawings, including a large self-portrait - symbols of a life that was still a work in progress.

One of his last drawings was a memorial sketch featuring an anchor design that he was working on, unbeknownst to his mother, for a grieving friend.

Another depicted Tyler's name inside a scroll banner with a background of roses.

"Everybody says they're going to miss him and asks who's going to cheer them up," his mother said.

At the tree where the fatal accident happened, friends gathered Sunday evening, amid flowers and notes left as memorials.

Someone had carved "RIP Tyler" in the tree.

"There's a lot of nice people who have been showing up and calling," his mother said. "He touched the lives of a lot of people I didn't even know."

After the crash, she said, Tyler was able to get out of the car and stand before he collapsed to the ground, his mother said.

A metal cross he had worn around his neck was bent, apparently from the impact. Tyler always loved to draw crosses, often as gifts for friends.