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Mistaken Identity: Car Crash Victim Confusion

MASSILLON, Ohio– The Ohio Highway Patrol said a car driven by Corey R. Wagner, 19, of Navarre went off the right side of Fohl Street SW, overturning at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

One passenger left the scene. Another, identified as Tyler A. Weisgarber, was trapped in the wreckage.

About four hours later, Connie Weisgarber of Massillon said she was laying in her bed when she heard a car pull up outside. She looked out to find an Ohio Highway Patrol cruiser in her driveway.

A uniformed trooper asked if she had a son named Tyler, and informed her that he was in a crash and that he had been taken to Mercy Medical Center in Canton with severe injuries.

Tyler’s sister, Jessica, and his grandfather, Tom, also rushed to the hospital in a panic.

“Everything was running through my mind, like we had no idea. All we knew is that he was in serious condition,” said Jessica.

Her brother, Tyler Adam Weisgarber, 17, had just graduated from Tuslaw High School last week.

He had been at a friend’s graduation party Saturday and stayed overnight with his friend.

When his family got to the hospital, they were met by a doctor who gave them the grim news.

“Doctor was down there; told us he was in pretty bad shape,” said Tom Weisgarber.

“That he had bleeding in his brain, a swollen brain, a collapsed lung, broken clavicle; he broke his vertebrae,” added Tyler’s sister, who said her family was devastated.

“I couldn’t believe it was happening to our family, like unreal,” she said.

“Everybody’s flabbergasted, you know. You don’t know what to think,” said Tyler’s grandfather, “And then the other family comes in. Holy mackeral, there’s two Tyler Weisgarbers.”

“We were in a room and he came in the doorway and said ‘I’m Tyler Weisgarber’s dad,’ and we knew of another Tyler Weisgarber; but when a cop shows up at your house, you don’t second guess him. You just go to the hospital, and then it hit us that oh my God, it might not be our Tyler,” said Jessica.

Tyler Allen Weisgarber, 18, was about to graduate from nearby Fairless High School.

Neither family was sure of which of them was actually at the hospital until a member of both families went in the room to see for themselves.

“I could see through the window. There was a window where my mom was going into and like I turned and watched her walk out and she was just balling and then she shook her head ‘no’ that it wasn’t our Tyler,” said Jessica.

The family’s relief was instantly countered by the realization that another family, actually cousins of theirs, was still dealing with the reality that their son was badly injured.

In the meantime, Tyler Adam Weisgarber had returned home, getting there only about ten minutes after his mother left to go to the hospital.

When he got there, he assumed his mother was still asleep so he went to his room, showered and was watching television.

“I got a call from my sister and you can tell when somebody is a little choked up when they are talking; so on the phone they say ‘hey we’re here at the hospital’ and you know immediately I perk up and I’m like ‘what happened? What hospital? Where do I have to be?’ and before I could even say any of that, she says ‘for you!’ said Tyler.

“All the variables definitely added up, like our Tyler wasn’t home. It’s just the same name, the same middle initial,” said Jessica.

Tyler Adam Weisgarber says he and the other Tyler had been confused before.

“Usually it was just phone numbers through Facebook, something like that; phones linked with Facebook and our numbers get mixed up all the time and friends call him and it’s pretty quickly sorted out; but it’s never been anything of this magnitude really,” added Tyler.

Sgt. Leo Shirky of the Ohio Highway Patrol Canton Post could not explain on Wednesday exactly what caused the confusion. He was unable to say how the troopers got Weisgarber’s name or what lead them to the wrong house and the wrong family.

Family members of Tyler Allen Weisgarber had apparently been notified by personnel at Mercy Hospital.

The family of Tyler Adam Weisgarber says they are not upset at authorities for their mistake and are asking people to pray for the other family and the other Tyler.

“We just like lost it; like we were relieved but then again there’s another kid in the hospital bed and he’s not doing very well,” said Jessica.