Justice for Kyle

Dawn (my wife) shares this note with everyone who knew our son Kyle.

Kyle loving it in Bali

Kyle was killed as most of you know, by a boy who was out with his friends. A lot of information has been out there but not all of the information has been correct. This is what I can tell you I hope it gives some closure to some of the people who knew and loved Kyle.

Mr. Yu is a 20 year old boy who was in college at the time of the accident, after he hit and killed Kyle he fled and then later turned himself into the police. Since that time Mr. Yu has taken full responsibility of his actions and has never denied the fact that he was at fault.

I was in Taiwan last month for the guilty verdict and I can tell you it was a painful experience. Gary and I had to do a lot of soul searching to get over the anger that goes along with this kind of nightmare. We are forever changed as a family and as people. I was not sure what I was gonna do when I saw Mr. Yu again. It had been about 18 months since I last saw him. I had no idea on what I was gonna do in that courtroom, what was the right thing; what would Kyle want me to do? I always wanted to believe that I was a kind and fair person but was I able to get past my own anger and do what my children and Kyle wanted me to do? Did I have the guts? Grief is a funny thing once you get past the anger you have to deal with the loss and then the day to day living without the person who so much was your life. Time is a great healer and with that Gary, Aeric , Jacob and myself believed in our hearts that no one was gonna make this out without a lot of scars. We felt that Mr. Yu took full responsibility and was in truth very sorry for what he had done. You look at someone and have to decide if the person you are looking at is indeed sorry. I believed that in my heart he was.

Gary and I asked the court not to send Mr. Yu to jail that it would serve no real purpose, and truth be told I didn’t want to be responsible for another life. This decision was not popular for some and others wanted something more, but I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly. I have cried many nights and in the end it came down to what Kyle would have wanted. I have to conduct myself in the manner in which I raised him to be and I saw him saying to me mom let it go it was an accident. With that in mind that is how we came to the decision we did.

Mr. Yu could of gotten 6- 10 years in prison but the court ruling is as such Mr. Yu will serve 1 year in prison and 5 years probation. He has to pay Gary and I a sum of money that will take him some time. Even though we asked the judge for no jail time she felt that carelessness of the crime some time had to be served. Due to the fact that Mr. Yu has taken responsibility from the beginning he was given a lighter sentence. I am relieved that I didn’t have to make that decision and the court has done that for us. We are at peace with the verdict and hope this answer’s the so many questions to a long nightmare.

When I left Taiwan with the boys I could not get out fast enough all that I felt was that this country has taken the best part of our lives. I had to return for court and I cried when I left the states and I cried when I arrived, but through the fear and pain came back all the great memories and the so many people who loved us and Kyle Chechen treated me like a returning queen. Seeing all the people who where so much a part of our lives was good for my soul. It made me remember why Kyle loved this place so much.

As Gary gets ready to finish his 91/2 years in Taiwan and move home to me and the boys, I know one day we will return because Kyle’s spirit is their. To all of you who help support us and loved Kyle keep surfing cause he is watching…

Dawn

Dawn and I miss Kyle everyday and thank all of our friends who supported us during this very difficult time. We where able to get some closure with the court’s decision but as any parent who loses a child, the pain of that loss never goes away.

25 thoughts on “Justice for Kyle

  1. hard to comment on any loss of life-there is no comment that will do any enlightenment. residing in Taiwan now for 14 years accidents find there way closer and closer to us! as crisis creates opportunity I can only feel Noa was born as Kyle stepped forward. Paranoia is on my mind as we live here. Try to be Noa’s personal lifeguard and father too! Gary and Dawn’s Ohana odopted all of us as a extended family-we are truly grateful. I happen to believe in the human spirit lives on! thats how I live my life!! Wish for Kyle to Imua! continue to move forward! Me Ke Aloha Camie, Duggar and Noa

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  2. Dawn, you wrote A MESSAGE to be heard by all- an example of forgiveness that the world definitely needs more of. I met Kyle a few brief times but felt his power of happiness. I too am leaving Taiwan in two weeks but whether I’m surfing here or in Bali , I feel Kyle’s presence- find it strange, but thats the honest truth and am proud to say that. Thank you for making such a fine young man and a display of family power that I can follow and lead my two young boys and lovely wife.
    Tom

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  3. What an amazing family I have!
    Dawn, Gary, Aeric, Jacob and Patrick
    You are the beacon of strength
    I love and miss you all..
    I love and miss you 4ever Ky-Man

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  4. Like others said before, the Zelinski family was a pillar of kindness, and generosity that always made me feel like I was part of it. Thanks for sharing your conclusion with me. Whenever I think of surfing in taiwan, Kyle is part of it, and everytime I see a perfect wave peel across the reef, I know Kyle is there, riding it all the way to the beach…

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  5. I just stumbled upon your surf blog and I must say that I was very touched by this post. I hope you are finding the peace and comfort that you both desperately deserve.

    And always, keep surfing.

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  6. this is dillon nielsen.. i dont know if anyone who will read this knows me or if you remember me Dawn.
    wow.. it had even been quite some time since i saw kyle before he passed. not since we were boys in Arvada.. runnin around doin our thing.. making stupid jokes in Spanish class and skating a dinky home-made rail down at Terrace Park with Cameron and JJ. i remember Kyle always talking about and being truly excited about his move. i never had huge opinions one way or another about it but i knew i didnt want to say goodbye to a friend. however.. certainly i never thought that goodbye would be such a permanent one. i, just like everyone else, expected that last goodbye to be followed by another meeting and a smile.. even if years down the road when he came back to the states. i remember kyle as such an amazingly happy person with a goofy sense of humor. i think this is why he and i got along so well. we were so much alike.. even how damn short we were! haha. theres tons of memories of us just walkin around doin nothin.. we lived just down the street from eachother in Arvada. it’s the little things you end up missing. and the day that i learned of the end of kyle’s life is etched into my memory as well. a normal weekend high school party with several people im sure knew kyle.. then came holly up to talk to me. we both stood there in front of eachother holding back tears.. it took far too long for it to really sink in.
    all that aside.. im sure we have all learned from kyle. to say that our lives are not enriched in some way by his presence would be a lie. i have read the message that Dawn posted about kyles “justice.” some sort of closure is always good but i am impressed with her ability to still hold on to *what kyle would want.* im sure kyle would demand a constant smile and to relax without taking life too seriously.. he would tell us all to keep surfing.. damnit, thats pretty hard to do from Colorado..haha, i better learn some day!
    anway, i sure wish i could have known him longer than up to the beginning times of high school.. but i will still consider him a friend forever!
    thanks kyle.. love ya man

    Written by Dillon Nielsen

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  7. Dawn,
    I don’t know if you will remember me at all as it has been about 5-6 years since I have seen you or Kyle, but I remember you and Kyle very well.
    Your beautiful son and I dated when I was an 8th-grader at Arvada Middle and he was a freshman at Arvada High… he also happened to have been my first kiss… the first guy I could talk to for hours on the phone… we never really broke up for a good reason either, my parents were wayyyy over-protective and wouldn’t let us see each other enough and this frustrated the both of us very much, in spite of that we kept trying for about 3-4 months. Then about a month after the last time we broke up, in spite of great efforts, my parents would alway foil the plan… then finally you guys moved away and I lost contact as my parents wouldn’t ever tell me if he ever called anyways. Silly parents, thought they were protecting me. You can imagine that I’ve certainly had some words with them because the funny thing is that in all honesty, I didn’t ever just forget about Kyle, which honestly, with all due respect, is strange considering we were silly kids who didn’t even really know what it meant to be a good boyfriend/girlfriend.

    In fact over those three years that he was gone, he crossed my mind quite a few times. I have notebooks from my freshman year with his name doodled all over them, amid and inside hearts, but I always remembered him telling me that he was coming back when he graduated in ’05. Oddly enough, even when I was a Junior in high school, and I was deeply in love with my first real boyfriend who was graduating ’05 also, I would think about how around when Sean was graduating, Kyle would be coming home. I figured I’d run into him at King Soopers or something–you know how Arvada is.

    I remember going out with Cameron Snyder one night around March of 2006, we were getting food and I had been meaning to ask him to give me Kyle’s number but kept spacing it, when I finally remembered in the Taco Bell drive-thru, “Hey by the way, did Kyle come back from Taiwan yet? I need to get his number I miss that kid-we used to have so much fun!”… Cameron just kinda looked at me. I couldn’t believe it when he told me the news.

    It took about 2 weeks for it to really register in my mind that the boy who was my first kiss, and would never lose that title, was no where on this earth, and with no amount of effort could I find him if I wanted to just talk to him and hear his goofy laugh or give him one of those middle-school awkward hugs. After I watching the paddle-out video where Kyle is shown talking and laughing, my heart completely broke as I remembered those many nights of talking to him on the phone, his cute mannerisms, his gorgeous blue eyes and how I would always make fun of him because the most amount of fat ever even on that kid was right below his eyebrows haha, wow I don’t know why I thought that was so funny at the time, but I remember having that conversation like every time he’d walk me home from the skatepark.

    My favorite memory of Kyle was when Erica and I walked the train tracks all the way to your house and you drove me, Kyle, Erica, and her boyfriend Brandon, to Ice Age because Erica was sooo obsessed with that stupid squirel! I was SO nervous when Kyle held my hand and later that day when he walked me home was that historical first kiss ha. I remember EXACTLY where it happened and how nervous I was, I could go outside right now and stand in that very spot and just remember it as if it were yesterday. God I really can’t believe this still.

    It was so wierd after watching the paddle-out video, how at the very end it shows Kyle’s birthday, which I remember shopping for his birthday/valentines day gift for, and the wierdest part was that my first boyfriend/first love had the exact same birthday as my first kiss/ first real bond with a guy (Kyle). It made me feel like somehow Kyle’s presence in my, and each of our lives, was completely meant to be, but as far as his death, it’s hard to believe that such a thing could ever be purposed.

    I remember being told that you birthed Kyle before reaching your twenties, and I want to thank you for doing what some may consider sacrificing the best years of your youth, to raise such a beautiful and fantastic young man. After reading your letter up top, I can definitely see why he had became such a great guy. It’s truly incredible that you were able to make such a decision–in spite of all the anger and frustration and heartache, it really shows character. I hope that you are able to remain strong and recieve all of the positive karma you’ve set into motion and thank you for reminding all of us that amidst all of ugliness and pain in the world, there is hope because of people like you.

    Thank you for everything,

    Michelle

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  8. Hi Aunt Dawn and Uncle Gaz. I cried when I read this article because I miss Kyle so very much. He taught me so much. You did the right thing Aunt Dawn and I know Kyle thinks so. He loved you very much as his mother. I will always miss my older cousin and he IS always watching.

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  9. To the family of Kyle,
    Hi, Im Justine Peterson, I’m not certain that you remember who I am, one of the girls who was with kyle that morning, one of his best friends.
    I have been checking up on this site every now and then, and reading what you wrote Dawn broke my heart. You are the strongest mother and woman I Have ever come across and I have no idea where that strength comes from. Your amazing.

    I still think about Kyle every day, I made a kind of memorial of him and put it on my bedroom wall. I put up pictures of us on that huge pee pee in kenting and when he came to visit me on weekends. I also included a list of a few of the many things he taught me, advice he gave and sayings he used; some of the things others wont understand, we had a unique relationship. I figure I can share that list with everyone as a reminder of how loveable, funny, and charming he was.

    .When your in the middle of the ocean and the waves are carrying you out, don’t fight it, let them bring you back.
    .Your beautiful inside and out, with or without make up.
    .Always watch over your friends, dont leave them in a ditch.
    .Get up there and dance, you can do it.
    .Drop it like its hot.
    .Your crazy, but I love it.
    .Giving oil rubdowns can be a hobby, a really great one.
    .Make sure you know who you are kissing.
    .When you throw your board perfect the timing.
    . Dont sleep with your knees touching its bad for your spine.
    .Your my brotha from anotha motha.
    .Just cause you gotta cast on your neck doesnt mean you cant surf.
    .Nothing wrong with a man in a thong.
    .You know theres nothing wrong with big nipples either.
    .She wants me, cant you tell.
    .You shouldnt let a person know you like it, they may stop doing it.
    .Every color is your color. .
    .This is your day whatever you want is yours.
    .Everytime you enter my room, its smells so great.
    .Dont wipe the sand off the bed, it takes so long to get it there.
    .Seashells make great boob covers.
    .Jump when your told, keep your eyes open, and count.
    .Dont ever let your mother pole dance.(for you dawn)
    .Not to make things weird, but i just saw you naked, and it was awesome.
    .my rules, no makeup or its mine.
    .It may not be allowed, but its fun.
    .That eyelash contraption made me cry ok.
    .ever, ever, ever, with the lip.
    .i like how i dont say anything and you laugh.
    .a fire and some stars is just as good as any party.
    .booty shaking contest, boys are allowed.
    .when you got stuff to do, dont sleep, just get it done, sleep always comes after.
    .If you cant choose one, wear them all or go naked.
    .Your lip gloss smelled so good, so i tasted it, and that was great, so I ate it.
    .curly blonde locks.
    .Not mad, disappointed.
    .Always say I love you before you leave, what if you dont come back.

    That last line is one I will use for the rest of my life, Ill never forget kyle getting on that scooter and I blew him a kiss and we said we loved eachother. I couldnt have asked for better last words.
    I hope that every person that ever knew kyle has taken a small part of him with them. I know I have and I am a better person because of that boy; so young, yet so experienced and full of knowledge. He made me laugh when I needed to and helped me cry when I couldnt stop it.

    He is in my heart always and forever. Take care dawn, gary, aeric, and jacob.
    Patrick as well, I miss you.

    Love, justine

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  10. I never met Kyle but was deeply moved by Dawn’s words. I was a friend of Gary’s before the boys showed up in Taiwan, the old skool Jialashwei massive. When I read about your loss and subsequent legal closure I cried. I have no idea the pain you two and your family have experienced but know my thoughts are with you.

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  11. Dawn and Gary your strength and love is something that I will never forget. As a real old school Taiwan surfer I will never forget the time I spent with Kyle when he came to Taiwan to spend the New Years with his father. This was his first introduction to surfing and we had a few epic adventures, Kyle, Gaz, Thelo, Phil and myself. I don’t remember how old Kyle was at the time but I will never forget how much he loved his dad and how proud he was of his dad who at the time was still relatively new to surfing. Unfortunately I left Taiwan before Kyle came back to Taiwan and took up surfing but feel privaliged that I was with him during his first surf and got to see how proud his father was of him. I have many fond memories of Kyles holiday especially the fun we had on New Years Eve, skate boarding from restuarant to restuarant, laughing and having fun and mixing it up with all our fantastic local friends.

    I feel privilaged to have been lucky enough to have spent that special time with Kyle and my thoughts and well wishes are with you both and all of your family.

    Take Care Always,

    Love Al

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  12. Hey Justine,

    I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you, but I must say you captured so much of Kyle in those quotes. I know him and I rubbed off on each other as I had the pleasure of being one of the guys who introduced him to surfing and some of life’s lessons along with Al above and others. The one about the nipples cracks me up…there was no slowing down or bringing down that guy. I remember waking him up at 5am for the dawn patrol and he would just smile with his eyes closed and grab his board and we’d be on our way. I think about him constantly and all the things I wish I could share with him…its always the good ones. I spoke to his Dad this morning and heard about Patrick who is now fathering an 18 month old and I thought of all that Kyle is missing. I was out for a paddle this evening and caught some lefts for him as Gazza, Rena and I paddled out shortly after his passing and spread some of his ashes in the Ocean here in Norcal…the Ocean is the place that I pay my respects to that fine young man. We’ll never forget Kyle Z! Thanks Justine for sharing.

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  13. Justine is right Dawn, you are probably the strongest women we know. i read the message you wrote about the boy who caused the acident, and i know you did the right thing, and what kyle would have wanted u to do. no a lot of people would have been able to do this.
    I can’t believe its been so long since kyle passed away. it still feels like it was last summer that we were all hanging out and having fun…there are so many things that i miss abt him. i know it is hard for the family but like we talked about before, you gave him everything a mom could give his son. and i know he loved you for it..and he still does..
    I remember the night before he passed away, i was having a hard time and i was really sad, we were talking online and i was crying asking him for help because of family problems. at the end of the conversation he told me that sometimes he felt bad for not letting you know how important you were for him and how much he loves u…
    when i was reading justines comment, i saw kyle through her words…it made me sad but also made me laugh nd reminded me of good times we had together.
    i remember everytimes one of the girls would buy a new lipgloss we would have to basically hide it from kyle and patrick because they would eat it..we had so much fun together..when i think about the best days of my life i think of this one summer we all spent together. and i am sure that i am not the only one…justine, greg,aaron,misha,layna,patrick, kyle and I…hanging out all day at this pizza place, just talking and listening to kyle and patrick making jokes, going dancing almost everynight, playing pool, walking around, watching movies, going to watever park, the beach, and sleepsover when they would come to taichung.
    when kyle passed away i remember being scared to forget…to not remember his face..his way of walkiing…dancing ..talking..ect..but now i know that i will remember him my whole life. he helped me love taiwan, and appreciate this new place, he helped me believe in myself, and he certainly showed me what true friendship is.

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  14. you must be so proud of him dawn..he was an amazing person and as i can see , many people feel the same.
    he passed away really young and its a shame.. but he accomplished more then anybody his age… you helped him see the world and become a amazing person.
    I feel privilaged to have had the opportunity of knowing him and having so many good memeries of kyle..
    I know a part of him is in me now…and in everyone of us

    I miss you Kyle and will always love you
    Mylene

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  15. Just read the the outcome of the accident! WE, camie me and Noa know kyle always checking on us to see us! His heart truly genuine like the hearts of gary, dawn, Aeric , Jacob and patrick. We are now deeply Rooted in kenting as Kyle loved this place surfing, having girls comming to me asking about Kyle-I’d tell them what I could!?
    We now have in control three hotel accomodations for surfers who want to just wake up and walk to the surf spots. Kyle is proud of us to do this difficult feat!! To Kyle Me Ke Aloha lanakila imua lokahi malamalama Ikaika Onipa’a Mahalo Nui loa Aloha Oe until we meet again!

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  16. I am glad to see Yu came forward, I think that is the act of true remorse. I hope this young man can go on to encourage others to drive responsibly. I visit Taiwan frequently and as a father of 4 the standard of driving here concerns me. Even though I never met Kyle I am sorry for your loss but glad that justice has been served in some small way.

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  17. Hi Dawn,
    I don’t know if you will check this any time soon or see this message but hopefully it will somehow get to you. I love what you have written and how you dealt with the verdict. You are so brave Dawn. I hope you are doing well and I miss you 🙂 I think about you guys and hope that things are going smoothly in the states. If you could I would love to have your phone number (email me at tetris_punk@Hotmail.com) and Patricks if you have it.
    I hope Aeric and Jacob are doing awesome! My brother is taller than me now! I don’t know if you remember Rio or not but he is 13 now still with bleach blonde hair. haha. Anyways I bet Aeric and Jacob are turning into dashing young men 🙂
    I hope to hear from you soon
    xooxoxox
    mish

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  18. Dawn,
    Along with justine and mylene, you’ve always been an incredible woman and mother, and you are still that… Last time I saw Kyle he was begging me to stay with him just another couple days, and I remember giving you and him a hug and saying “love you guys, see you soon”… I still breakdown some nights praying that justice will be served for kyle, but after reading your msg, I know had it been anyone else besides you and Gazza that man would be dealing with so much more… Just dealing with it the way you two did shows how Kyle became the amazing person he was… I hope things are going well for you guys, are you still in Michigan? If so I’m only a hop skip and a jump down in Muncie, IN and it would be awesome to be able to see you guys sometime… my email is ambettinger@bsu.edu so if you ever wanted to get in contact thats it, pass it on to Patrick too if you don’t mind I haven’t heard from him in a while… Take care and love to your family… Love and miss Kyle too, I think about you all the time bro
    Aaron

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  19. I am Dawn’s first cousin. Dawn is an amazing women on so many levels. The things she had endured her whole life have made her the extraordinary person. When Kyle was born, he was our first great grand child, first nephew and first addition to the second cousin generation. He was the happiest boy. As he grew, there was no doubt how special he was and wise beyond his years. Kyle was always honest, loyal and giving. I am not surprised at how loved he was by his friends.
    When Kyle’s Gram was diagnosed with breast cancer, he stepped up to the plate (he was a kid) to help his mom in the care of his Gram and brothers.
    I will never forget that dreadful phone call on April 2nd here in the States. We were celebrating my dad’s birthday. We were heart broken.
    We really enjoy reading the love filled notes about Kyle, his passions….we are glad to see his life celebrated by all those who love him. He will never be forgotten here as well.

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  20. Hi Dawn. I’m Melissa… Randy’s daughter. I thought I would say that it’s good what you did for that man, and try to not have any regrets. Kyle is my half brother, and even though I didn’t get to meet him physically I feel as though I know him spiritually.
    I really wish I could have known him.
    But I feel as though he’s everywhere, watching and helping those that he needs to.
    Stay strong.

    xMissi

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  21. Dear Missi

    I am sorry that u didn’t have the chance to meet Kyle he was more then I deserved, but so glad god picked me to be his mom. It was the best time of our life, Aeric Jacob and Patrick all carry a part of Kyle with them in some way, Aeric looks a lot like him, Jake has his heart and Patrick took his duty to family. As I miss him everyday I take pride in knowing that he changed so many people’s life in a positive way. His brothers r a reflection of him Gary and myself, and I will never be sorry of the time I had with him. We never wasted a day, he taught me how to love and how to be a mom, I hope your life has been as to date just as happy and filled with love. I know Randy was a wonderful person, and he gave the best part of me. You will someday meet Kyle just not soon, but know that even though he didn’t know u then he does now and is looking down and I am sure he would have loved u, he was just that wonderful of a person. Good luck to u and your future

    Dawn

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  22. To Kyle as I believe your spirit lives forever and Yes I do believe spirits can read through the internet like the movie Tron. Just want to let you know we have a new Blood and you will love him. His hawaiian name is keanu named after the actor. He likes to play ball and any toys. He is not afraid of water and I took him under a few times in the pool! Keanu and brother noa will take up surfing early as you did!. All is well in kenting Taiwan Me Ke Aloha duggar

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  23. Wow its been 6 years and I hadn’t seen this website until now….. anyways hi dawn I know you remember me and I definitely remember u. Kyle was and still is my best friend u know we did everything together… I some times can’t help but to think about kyle and all the fun we used to have, someone I definitely look up to. Thinking about him led me to this site and I believe that when I think about kyle its like he is stopping by for a visit. He had a big impact on me and my life and I only hope to one day be as courageous and strong minded as your son. Its been years but this message still brings tears to my eyes.
    I love and miss all of you
    JJ mccracken

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