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Erik Burgess, Published August 08 2012

Fargo mother honors late son with tribute

FARGO – This year’s graduation ceremony at South High School was difficult for Michelle Tweten, to say the least.

Her son Tyler would’ve walked across the stage with friends had he not lost his life in a car accident here two years ago.

“They did something in his honor for graduation, put a cap and gown down, had some flowers on a chair for him,” Michelle said. “That was hard.”

Tyler was killed just after 1 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2010, when the car he was riding in slid into a tree. The female driver faced charges of manslaughter, reckless driving and alcohol violations in juvenile court at the time.

For the second straight year, his family and friends will be putting on the Tyler Scott Tweten Memorial Tribute Safety Cruz today.

Today is also Tyler’s 19th birthday.

“We do it on his birthday because we are celebrating his life,” Michelle said.

The second annual cruise will start at the south Fargo Kmart parking lot at around 8:30 p.m. with a balloon release, Michelle said. She said an estimated 250 people showed up for last year’s event.

Maps with a route to follow will be handed out, and participants will be given a cross vehicle decal that Tyler himself drew.

The cruise, Michelle said, is meant to keep people aware of what can happen if you drive recklessly.

“It keeps a constant awareness out there,” she said. “Everybody knows what happened to Tyler.”

At the time, Tweten was among five traffic fatalities in Fargo within a three-week period. The string of deaths prompted the Fargo Police to build an aggressive campaign in an effort to increase public safety.

Michelle said she’s seen improvements among drivers who are Tyler’s age.

“It’s been amazing the impact that Tyler has had on them,” she said. “I’m so proud of Tyler’s age group.”

While two years have passed, the mother said it hasn’t gotten easier living without her son, but this event does help her see the positive force Tyler was among his friends.

“There’s a hole in my heart and always will be. It’s broken for life,” she said. “But you learn a routine that you do to get through every single day without him.”

Last year, the cruise led people around places familiar to Tyler – Madison Elementary, where he played soccer, and South High School, where he would’ve graduated this year. Michelle said the route will change this year.

She said she hopes the safety cruise will continue to inspire safe driving throughout the entire community.

“No one in the world should have to fall victim to losing their life like this. Nobody. It’s so preventable,” she said. “It needs to stop taking our loved ones from us.”

If you go

What: Second Annual Tyler Scott Tweten Memorial Tribute Safety Cruz

When: 8:30 tonight

Where: South Fargo Kmart, 2301 S. University Drive

Info: Maps will be passed out in the parking lot.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518

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