Pennypack Creek drowning victim mourned

A photo of Brandon Boyle by the casket at his funeral at Bethel Franklin Mills church.
A photo of Brandon Boyle by the casket at his funeral at Bethel Franklin Mills church. (STEPHANIE AARONSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 12, 2013

Brandon Boyle's family members don't want anyone to forget.

They don't want his sassy comebacks or his knack for pushing people's buttons to become a distant memory. They already miss his presence as a protective big brother, always looking out for his family.

They hope no one forgets how he died, either.

Nearly 200 people gathered Wednesday to remember the 13-year-old boy found dead in Pennypack Creek last week. Friends and relatives were joined by strangers who helped search for Boyle when he vanished in the fast-moving waters of the creek.

When Pastor Steve Eichner asked who among the crowd had helped in the search, nearly everyone stood.

"He had so many friends," said his mother, Kim. "Even as his mother, I didn't realize how many people loved him."

Brandon Boyle, of Northeast Philadelphia, jumped into the rain-swollen creek July 1. His body was found three days later.

He was buried Wednesday at the St. Dominic Church Cemetery on Frankford Avenue after the service at Bethel Franklin Mills church.

His uncle Matthew Vanderford read passages from his journal to show his personality - loving, yet with a joking bite.

"The person who has the biggest influence on me is my mom because she's the one who tells me to act right and not do anything wrong," the boy wrote.

The most difficult person for him to deal with?

"Probably my mom," he wrote. "Because when I want to do something she tells me 'no' and gives me a huge lecture."

And yet, relatives said, he "adored his mommy."

Kim Boyle struggled to find words to express what she called the hole in her heart now that Brandon is gone.

She said she had been told her son's last words were, "You only live once, make it count."

In his journal, he had vowed to spend his last day on Earth doing just that: "I would do everything I could think of that would be fun that I could do within a day."

"That's exactly how Brandon lived his life," his uncle said.

His best friend, Stav Chen, remembered the fun they had getting free doughnuts at a Dunkin' Donuts 10 minutes before closing time.

"Brandon was a great person," he said. "Fly high, little buddy."

Brandon Boyle loved basketball and baseball. His last Facebook post was a gleeful response to the Miami Heat's win over the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.

"Whoooooo heat won!!!!" he wrote with excitement that almost leaped off the page.

According to his journal, Brandon Boyle valued personality above appearance, was most thankful for his family on Thanksgiving, and said that if he found himself with a few thousand extra dollars, he'd donate it to the church "to give it to the people who need it most."

In addition to his mother and uncle, he is survived by his father, James; brothers Anthony and Cameron; sisters Katey, Shayna, and Leah; and grandparents James and Candice Boyle and Patricia Walker.

Donations toward funeral costs may be sent to Bethel Franklin Mills, 903 Franklin Mills Circle, Philadelphia 19154, or www.fmchurch.net. Donations should be marked for the Brandon Fund.


Contact Summer Ballentine at 215-854-2415 or at SBallentine@philly.com. Follow her on Twitter @esballentine.

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