Nathan Wylie was a happy, big-hearted boy, “the type of kid that he didn’t have much, and he was so happy with anything he got.”
Nathan was excited even if his “crispy shoes” were a friend’s hand-me-downs, according to a Dayton woman who said she often helped feed and clothe the 13-year-old.
“I felt like he was one of mine,” said Kelly Nickerson, a single mother of three who often had Nathan and Nathan’s little brother at her home.
“Even though my 14-year-old was older, Nathan always had the image of the bigger brother. He always carried himself and acted like the bigger brother, so they would call each other ”Lil’ big brother.’ “
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Nickerson regrets not doing more to help Nathan — who died April 1 after an apparent heroin overdose March 28 when his father and father’s co-worker took him to a fire station on South Broadway. Paramedics gave Nathan four milligrams of Narcan and then transported him to Miami Valley Hospital.
‘Make the call’
Nickerson said she knew neither boy was in school, that their split-up parents’ lifestyles were not ideal, and that Nathan’s hands often were dirty, and he’d tell her that was because he was helping his father fix semis and trucks.
“If somebody was in my shoes today, I’d tell them to make the call. Make the call (to Montgomery County Children Services),” Nickerson said, choking up. “Because right there’s a 13-year-old boy who no will longer ever get to live life or be with people that love him.”
Nathan’s father, 40-year-old Robert Wylie, was arrested on a warrant for an earlier drug-related felony case. He is in the Montgomery County Jail, and Dayton police have said new charges are likely.
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A Dayton police report from February 2016 showed evidence of drug use was found in Robert Wylie’s Valley Street address and that Children Services had been contacted.
Greg Carr, Nathan’s uncle, said there is blame to go around for what happened.
“Truthfully, it’s a big mix between his father and Children Services,” Carr said. “If Children Services would have been proactive — the fact that they already found drugs in the house, if they would have done something to at least get him out of there — if it were in foster care, or getting a hold of a father’s or mother’s sibling.”
‘He was my best friend’
Carr acknowledged that different members of Nathan’s family aren’t close to, or even aware, of other parts of Nathan’s family.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Carr said, adding that he doesn’t often talk to Nathan’s father or mother, who is his sister who didn’t have legal custody. “If I would have known more, I would have done something earlier so this wouldn’t happen.”
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A graveside service for Nathan has been scheduled for noon April 12 at Byron Cemetery at 3256 Trebein Rd. in Beavercreek.
Brittany Goodwin, who said she was Nathan’s step-sister, said her step-brother liked football, especially the Cincinnati Bengals, and wanted to play the sport.
“Nathan wasn’t only my little brother,” Goodwin said. “He was my best friend.”
Goodwin said Nathan would message her to say good morning and wish her a good day.
“I loved that little boy with all my heart, and I still can’t believe it’s true,” she said of his death. “It’s seems just like a dream.
“I remember when he was a little baby and he would always want to lay with me and want me to hold him … (he) was a smart, brilliant, amazing, funny, loving, caring young man.”
He wasn’t attending school
A Dayton Public Schools spokeswoman said Nathan was enrolled at Belmont High School as a seventh-grader. The spokeswoman said no students asked for counseling on April 3, the first school day after Nathan’s death.
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Carr said Nathan said he wasn’t in school because he didn’t have a required medical shot. Carr said he advised his nephew to get into school when they last messaged about three weeks ago.
Both Carr and Nickerson mentioned how Nathan was protective of his younger brother, who was taken from Nickerson’s home the day Nathan overdosed.
“He was always watching over his little brother like he was the father,” Nickerson said. “Them two was best, best friends. That’s all they had in life was each other.”
Nickerson said Nathan’s little brother has kept his feelings bottled up after his brother’s death.
“He was raised in the streets, too, just like Nathan,” she said. “And he’s not wanting to show his tears because he feels it’s going to make him look weak.”
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Said Carr: “I don’t think the boys had a chance to have a real childhood.”
Nathan ‘was a good kid’
Nickerson and Carr also said Nathan was not a drug user.
“He was a good kid,” Nickerson said. “He was just down the wrong path because of lifestyle. It’s making it look like a 13-year-old had some kind of (drug) issue. And he didn’t.
“That boy always said that was the one thing he would never touch in life would be heroin because he watched it take his mom and dad. So this was a shock to everybody.”
Nickerson said she regrets not doing more and wants to see justice for Nathan.
“I did my best every day to try to make sure the boys had somewhere to go, was fed, showered and clothes if needed,” she said. “That’s the best I could do. I know I should have stepped up and called Children Services.”
She also wanted to turn the focus to how Nathan lived, not just how he died.
“He was funny,” Nickerson said. “He had a good sense of humor. The biggest, biggest heart.”