WINDEN FALLS, WA—Just days after a fatal accident claimed the life of high school sophomore Brian Tillerman, members of the 16-year-old’s loose-knit hometown of Winden Falls, WA told reporters Thursday they were not all that devastated by the news of his death.
Saying that the tragedy certainly hadn’t touched each of them personally, the 9,300 barely connected Winden Falls residents explained that they did not struggle to absorb the news of Tillerman’s sudden passing and don’t really feel as if a hole has been left in their community.
“I didn’t really know Brian or his family very well, so none of this hits home for me,” said local mother Jessica Winger, who noted that her children didn’t grow up with Tillerman, didn’t play Little League with him, and didn’t see him every day in school, and admitted that, even if they had, she probably wouldn’t remember him. “I can’t say life in Winden Falls has changed in any noticeable way since Brian’s death. And to be honest, it never really crossed my mind to keep him in my thoughts and prayers.”
“I’d say that everyone in town pretty much knows how we’re going to get through the days ahead,” Winger continued. “Frankly, it’ll probably be pretty easy to move on from this.”
Tillerman, who was killed Sunday morning when he lost control of his car on a wet road and skidded into a tree, was described by community members as a student at one of Winden Falls’ two high schools who probably had a group of friends, could have possibly attended church regularly with his parents, and may or may not have had a bright future ahead of him.
Describing their small, quiet village as “cold” and “unwelcoming,” the vast majority of town residents said they would not attend a memorial for Tillerman over the weekend, admitting that coming together in solidarity with their fellow residents actually sounded uncomfortable and seemed like a pretty big hassle.
“This really hasn’t been too hard on all of us,” said Donald Parker, a local general store owner who claimed he doesn’t know or converse with his customers and had no idea whether or not Tillerman came into his shop regularly. “You see, most of the people in Winden Falls haven’t lived in town for too long, and we’re by no means a part of each other’s daily lives, so rallying behind Brian’s family and offering our support didn’t feel at all like the natural thing to do.”
“The thing is, when something like this happens to someone in our community, it pretty much only impacts that one person,” Parker continued. “That’s just how it is in Winden Falls.”
Gloria Murphy, a 66-year-old retiree who has lived for many years on the same street as the Tillermans, confirmed to reporters that she spoke only a few quick words in passing to Brian’s parents and siblings over the past decade. Like most town residents, Murphy said she never invited her fellow townsfolk into her home and pretty much sought to minimize all interactions with those living near her.
“In this town, neighbors definitely don’t count on one another or look after each other—we pretty much just keep to ourselves,” said Murphy, who noted that she hadn’t observed anything close to a community-wide outpouring of sympathy following the accident. “I don’t think anyone around here has ever felt as if their neighbors were like members of their own family, and this accident certainly hasn’t changed that view.”
“People from Winden Falls are definitely not the people you want around you in a time like this,” Murphy added.
Community leaders have reportedly neither reached out to Tillerman’s family nor sought to publicly comfort and reassure residents in the wake of the tragedy, with Winden Falls mayor Toby Leekham noting that he has felt personally unmoved by the teen’s death.
“Townspeople haven’t really mentioned anything about preserving Brian’s memory, so that’s something we probably won’t do,” Mayor Leekham said. “More than anything, I think this tragic accident has demonstrated to everyone just how distant and uncaring the Winden Falls community truly is.”
Added Leekham, “Honestly, most of us have already forgotten all about Brian.”