March 21, 2018
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Bethel boy, 8, succumbs to injuries from August car crash

Matthew Thurston
By Erin Cox, Sun Journal

BETHEL, Maine — An 8-year-old local boy died Monday night from injuries received after a car crash in Oxford in August.

Matthew Thurston passed away at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland after spending the past two months at the facility, Fran Head, a family friend said.

Matthew was involved in a car crash with his mother, Jessica Thurston, 28, of Bethel, on Aug. 12 on Route 26 in Oxford. He was transported by helicopter to Maine Medical Center, Oxford police Chief Jonathan Tibbetts said.

Jessica Thurston was transported to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston and later released, Tibbetts said.

Matthew was a student at Crescent Park Elementary School in Bethel. He had previously attended Meroby Elementary School in Mexico.

Crescent Park School Principal Levi Brown said Tuesday morning that counselors were on hand to assist in Thurston’s third-grade classroom and the classrooms of his siblings.

Matthew’s best friend, Wyatt Phielbar, Fran Head’s grandson, had helped to organize a walk-a-thon in September to help offset medical costs.

Phielbar and his sister Jillian had initially offered their allowances. Their mother, Shannon Phielbar, and grandmother, Fran Head, helped the children organize the walk-a-thon.

“He was my grandson Wyatt’s best friend and he just loved him dearly,” Head said. “He was just a fun-loving, exceptional kid.”

Matthew’s grandmother, Merilee Thurston, struggled through her emotions to find words to describe her grandson on Tuesday.

“He was just a little Tigger, like in Winnie the Pooh,” she said. “He was always bouncing all over the yard.”

Thurston said her grandson enjoyed riding bicycles, playing soccer and fishing.

“He loved to fish and didn’t care if he caught one,” she said. “He just loved to stand on the rocks and cast his line.”

Thurston also said Matthew enjoyed spending time with his father, Kurt Thurston, at his home in Andover.

Kurt Thurston was involved in a logging accident in April when he was run over by his skidder. He received a crushed pelvis and a compound fractured ankle and had been spending the summer recovering.

A Facebook page had been created in Matthew’s honor Tuesday morning and continued to receive posts of condolences throughout the day.

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