Family of man killed in hit-and-run forgives alleged teen driver

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

MESA, Ariz. -- Family members of a Mesa man killed in a hit-and-run crash Wednesday say they forgive the 15-year-old boy who was allegedly driving.

Carlie Merrill said she was waiting for her older brother to return home from running errands so the two could play video games when her family got a phone call about the crash.

“I had this sinking feeling in my stomach and my dad's like, ‘It’s not him,’ ” Carlie Merrill recalled. "Then my mom's calling us bawling ‘cause she’s down at the site and his shoes are on the floor.”

Police said 22-year-old Mason Merill was riding his scooter near the intersection of Alma School Road and University Drive when a blue pickup truck turning into the Jack in the Box parking lot failed to yield to him. The scooter crashed into the truck.

Police said the teen driver of the pickup truck, who had a learner's permit, had his 14-year-old sister and two 14-year-old friends in the vehicle with him at the time of the crash.

Mesa police spokesman Sgt. Tony Landato said that according to witnesses, the teens ran over to Mason Merrill but returned to the truck and fled the scene.

Charges are pending against the driver, whose name has not been released because he is a minor.

Police say they will submit charges to the Juvenile Maricopa County District Attorney’s Office upon completion of the investigation.

Carlie Merrill said she and her family feel bad for the teen, who will have to carry the weight of his alleged actions for life.

“We really just hope the best for him,” she said. “We don’t want two lives to be taken by this.”

Meanwhile, reality is still sinking in for Carlie Merrill, who lost not only her big brother but best friend.

“It’s so hard to even comprehend that this is happening; that somebody that you love so much is just gone in your life," she said.

But Carlie Merrill's devout faith as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints allows her to have some peace.

“We cling to our church,” she said. “Our belief system is that we will see him again.”

Mason Merrill had already beat death once.

Family members said he learned he had cancer while on a missionary trip, which he cut short to receive treatment. However, he had recently been told he was in remission.

Carlie Merrill believes her brother might have had a higher calling.

“Just to go through all of that just to die so instantly, so suddenly, it really makes you think it happens for a reason," she said. "How can that be a coincidence?”

An account has been set up for Mason Merrill's family in his name at Chase Bank.

Click here to donate to the family online.