ROCKINGHAM — Little is known about what transpired Saturday night between the moment 2-year-old Matthew “Wyatt” Lohman’s hands were being held on one side by his father and on the other side by his older brother.
But tragedy struck at about 5:54 p.m. as Andrew Lohman attempted to escort his sons across Midway Road from their single-wide mobile home. They were on their way to enjoy a Christmas dinner at Midway Baptist Church. At the same time Brandon Terrell Deese was traveling west on Midway Road. The motorcycle struck Wyatt, who died from the injuries.
Midway Road at Shaw Street, located south of Highway Business 74, features a steep grade. The posted speed limit is 45 miles per hour. A Rockingham Police Department news release states that Deese was headed westbound, or downhill, on Midway Road — but how fast is yet unknown to the public.
At that time of day, the sun had set nearly 50 minutes earlier. It was dark. There is little street lighting available. The road might have still been wet from early Saturday morning rain. It’s not yet known if speed, alcohol, a possible medical issue or other factors might have contributed to the incident. It’s not known if the headlight on the motorcycle was in working condition.
While details are scarce about what caused the collision, Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly said his officers are “using all resources we have available” to determine what happened. Kelly promised to release his officers’ findings “as soon as possible.”
For now, all that stands near the scene is a small memorial; a single wooden stake with an angel-blue wreath centered by a stuffed sleeping bear. A small bouquet of white roses lies nearby. In the background is the fellowship hall of Midway Baptist Church, which was to serve as the location of the Christmas dinner.
The family, which relocated to Richmond County from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., approximately three months ago, does not have insurance but contributions have helped to cover the funeral expenses. Carter Funeral Home, which is serving the family, helped lower the cost significantly by donating much of the needed services.
Jeff Holler, of VFW Post 4203 in Rockingham, said the veterans organization is among the many groups and individuals hoping to help the family.
Holler said that, with donations, “then possibly they can have Christmas.”
It’s not known of Lohman is a military veteran, Holler said, but given the circumstances, “I can’t think of any other reason to help a family.”
Planning for Wyatt’s funeral continues. The family will see friends from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Carter Funeral Home in Rockingham. The funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Midway Baptist Church. Burial will be in Old Northam Cemetery.