Heartbreak as Teen Dies Suddenly During Christmas Eve Dinner, Now Family Faces $25,000 Bill


A Texas teen died suddenly over the holidays, leaving his family and friends emotionally devastated.

That trauma was quickly followed by a financial hit as well.

Dylan Ricciardella, 17, died while his family was on vacation during the Christmas break, according to a Facebook notice by Dr. Shaun Perry, principal at Guyer High School in Denton, Texas, where he was a junior.

The young man passed away during Christmas Eve dinner with his family, according to a GoFundMe appeal.

“He had to be airlifted by helicopter from a very remote area,” wrote Kim Jackson, organizer of the fundraising campaign.

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The family received a $25,000 bill for the air ambulance, which prompted Jackson to organize the GoFundMe appeal.

The fundraising goal is $30,000 to host a celebration of life. “This won’t cover all of their costs, but it sure will help,” Jackson said. “This is one burden we can all share with them.”

According to his obituary, Ricciardella “was a brilliant, handsome, and witty young man.

“He was a technology, car, and train enthusiast and had aspirations of one day designing luxury automobiles.

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“His happy place was his grandparents’ farm in Nebraska, where you could find him in the town of Big Springs watching trains, driving farm equipment, tinkering around on projects, sledding, and most importantly spending time with his family.

“Dylan cherished his free time and delighted in sketching, gaming with friends, perfecting his photography, building Legos, and spending time with his dog Ozzy.

“He was known for his uncanny wit, which he used to famously deliver one-liners that made everyone smile, but it was his smile that lit up a room. Dylan was special in so many ways and he will always be remembered for his kind, generous, and loving spirit.”

The Guyer High School Parent Teacher Student Association shared the announcement Perry sent out to families in the school, which asked them to keep Ricciardella’s family in their prayers.

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“We remember Dylan as a witty, smart, and talented young man who was very kind and loved art,” Perry wrote.

“Please know that we have reached out to his family to let them know we will provide support during this difficult loss, and they have asked for us to respect their privacy at this time.”

The principal assured families that teachers and staff at Guyer High School “will work with our students to get through this tough, emotional time together.

“[O]ur counselors will be available to any students who need support through this emotional process.”

A separate GoFundMe appeal indicated that “in lieu of flowers, Dylan’s family would be grateful for donations to the Big Springs, Nebraska Fire Department.
“The Nebraska family farm was a very special place for Dylan, and we would like to give back to a community who took very good care of Dylan in a very difficult time.”

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Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.
Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.