The mother of a Ramona High School sophomore who died after being struck in the chest by a ball spoke Thursday.
Sue Kohler joined a candlelight vigil and thanked everyone for coming, for wanting to remember her son, Taylor Dorman.
Dozens of friends and family comforted each other on the school campus. They held hands and prayed as candles flickered in the wind. There was no more space on the poster for goodbyes.
The outpouring of support from friends and community members helped give her a reason to get out of bed she said.
“Regardless of our loss, there are people out there who still care about us and they need us and we have to keep going whether we want to or not,” Kohler said. “That’s what Taylor would want. He would want us to be happy.”
Dorman died Wednesday after being accidentally hit in the chest with a softball during a game of “over-the-line” in P.E. class.
The teenager collapsed on the field just before 11:30 a.m. He was airlifted to Palomar Hospital where he later died.
It was his 16th birthday.
After Taylor's death, Kohler and her son drove to UC Santa Barbara to pick up her daughter and bring her home. The family was unaware about the memorial at the high school or the impromptu birthday party held Wednesday night.
Then, she saw the coverage on local television early Thursday.
“I was shocked,” she said. “Everybody was saying what I knew about Taylor – that he was wonderful. That gave me strength.”
Kohler and Taylor spent Wednesday morning together, picking up maple bars and strawberry milk before school.
“When he got out of the car at school I told him ‘Happy Birthday’ and told him I loved him. He said he loved me too,” she recalled. “I was happy, we were happy together at that moment.”
Dorman’s family suffered a loss last year when his father died in from heart failure after several bouts of pneumonia.
When Kohler talked to the medical examiner after her son’s autopsy, she learned the teenager had an enlarged heart.
“That is hereditary and there could have been a connection,” Kohler explained. “Despite the fact that we just didn’t know, perhaps he had a condition that led to this.”
The medical examiner said he would do more tests and let the family know the results when they were available.
“Taylor was a big guy. His dad was 6'4” and he was probably going to be 6'4”. He loved people. He had a good heart, a big heart,” Kohler said.
“He didn’t like to see people suffer or be unhappy and he just liked to hug.”
Loved ones will continue honoring Dorman's life and spirit Friday evening with a special birthday party at Collier Park on East Street in Ramona.
A memorial fund has been established for Dorman and his family. Those who wish to donate can do so at the Bank of Southern California Ramona branch located at 1315 Main Street by mentioning Dorman's mother, Sue Kohler.