BAKER CITY, Oregon -- The parents of an Oregon boy who was killed when he was sucked under the wheels of a parade float say they want people to remember their son for his joy and his love of life.
Dylan Thomas died Saturday after he slipped from the float trailer he was riding on with a group of other local children in Baker City. It was his seventh birthday.
"He was just a really, really bright light in a lot of people's lives. He loved everybody and everything with all he had," Dylan's father Shad Thomas said. "He was just pure love and pure joy, pure happiness. He was - he was perfect."
The Miners' Jubilee Parade marked the first time Dylan had ever ridden in a parade, but his mother Megan Thomas wasn't worried.
"I took him down there to get on the float, and everything looked fine, looked great," she said.
The float was a lowboy trailer with exposed wheels, filled with kids from local YMCA programs. Organizers handed out dipstick water guns for the children to spray the crowd.
Shad and Megan Thomas say the float was making its way along the parade route when Dylan stepped on the trailer's tire as it was rolling.
In an instant, he was pulled underneath.
The death sent waves of devastation through the eastern Oregon town. Within a day, a memorial had popped up on the road, where mourners left balloons, flowers, a jar of pickles and toys. Residents reached into their pockets, raising more than $30,000 to pay for the funeral.
"The service itself was unbelievable, how many people were there to support him," Shad Thomas said. "They were spilling out into the parking lot."
Dylan's 10-year-old sister Kaydence, who was riding on the float with her brother, is also struggling in the wake of his death.
"We're all a little numb, we're all still in shock," Shad Thomas said.
The family described Dylan as a bright, loving boy who loved hunting, camping, and being outside. He was excited for his birthday party, set to begin in the park immediately after the parade, and for the rodeo held later that evening.
The parents say they don't blame anyone for what happened to their son. But both Shad and Megan Thomas urged others to take one message away from their grief.
"The one thing I would say to parents- love your kids," Shad Thomas said."Make sure they know how much you love them. Kiss them every night. Make sure they know how proud of them you are."
Dylan's mother agreed.
"Dylan knew how much Shad and I loved him, and how proud we were of him," she said. "So yeah, just love on your children. It can get taken away at any second."