Plumbers Respond to Death of 2-Year-Old Boy

Brotherhood helps raise funds for funeral expenses, father’s lost wages.
Plumbers Respond to Death of 2-Year-Old Boy
Photos and video courtesy Dillon Wyckoff

The plumbing community came together for one of its own last week, offering support to Dillon Wyckoff, a four-year apprentice with Bill Rhiner’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling in Des Moines, Iowa, whose 2 1/2-year-old son, Mason, was found dead July 22.

Mason’s mother and Wyckoff’s former girlfriend, Stephanie Erickson, 33, was unresponsive at the scene and taken to a local hospital where she died six days later. The couple had been involved in a bitter custody battle.

Tiffany Daugherty, a friend of Wychoff’s, organized Dillon’s Angel, a fundraising page to help cover funeral expenses and Wychoff’s time off work.

“I have known Dillon Wyckoff for probably 15 years or so,” Daughterty says. “We have kept in touch here and there. He is a selfless man. He only wanted to watch Mason grow up. Mason was all he had, his best friend. 

“I created the fundraiser Friday night after I heard the tragic news. I knew I couldn’t bring Mason back, or take the pain away. I wanted to do so something to comfort Dillon, providing support financially to lay Mason to rest. I had seen other types of online fundraisers in the past, and have donated to them. I had heard about Crowdrise from a friend Friday night, that this one had a much smaller fee to do the fundraising. I thought this would be the better organization. I had NO idea of what a realistic goal would be. I knew he had a couple other fundraisers going on as well. I thought $3,000 would be a great place to start and had hoped we would make it there,” Daugherty says.

“We did pretty well for the first few days. Then Dillon contacted me and said he shared Mason’s obituary and story on Plumbing Hacks and Plumbing Professionals Discussions Facebook page. OH MY GOODNESS! The donations started flooding in!

"I had NO idea what a great plumbing family Dillon had. I am sure most of them do not know Dillon personally, but they all have a kind heart. When they donated, most of them posted, from a Brother. I had tears in my eyes as my email was blowing up last night. Nothing feels better at this time than knowing Dillon will not have any financial burden due to this loss.

“I have the utmost respect for these plumbers," Daugherty says. "I requested to join that Facebook page so I could THANK each of them. I had not slept or ate much since his tragedy, I worried about my friend. Last night I had a great night’s sleep, knowing the 15 minutes I took to set up the fundraiser reached so many generous, loving, selfless people. Much of the donations have come from the plumbing community. I THANK THEM ALL. I know Dillon is beyond grateful.”

About $725 had been raised when Wychoff posted on the Plumbing Hacks page. Within two hours the $3,000 goal was exceeded.

“That brought me to tears,” Wychoff says.

“It amazed me how they all came together.”

As of Aug. 1, $5,570 had been donated.

  • “So sorry for your loss! Prayers, Brother,” Robbie Mann of A. Mann Plumbing wrote on the fundraising site.
  • “To a fellow plumber and fellow father,” wrote Jacob Baxter.
  • “Just helping a fellow plumbing hacks bro. incredibly sorry for you loss,” wrote Jesse Green.
  • “Condolences and prayers,” wrote Robby Watson and Fawn from 1st Choice Plumbing.
  • “Helping a fellow plumber in a time like this is an honor,” wrote Chart Hart.

The case remains under investigation. No charges have been filed. An autopsy report is expected in mid- to late-August, pending toxicology reports.

Wychoff says his former girlfriend has been diagnosed bipolar and is manic depressive.

“She’s been battling it her whole life,” he says. “For the past year, it’s been a downward spiral.”

Wychoff says he repeatedly contacted authorities and placed a 911 call in September saying Erickson was threatening to take her life and Mason's, but was told nothing could be done.

“There was no physical abuse yet,” he says. “DHS [Department of Human Services] told me they weren’t able to do anything. They could make a statement about it, but until something happened, they couldn’t do anything either.”

Wychoff says the couple tried to make their relationship work but split up three months ago after four years together.

“The last week she kept Mason from me,” he says. “We were sharing him 50-50. The last few days were supposed to be my days with him but she wouldn’t answer the calls. I tried calling her at night and she’d send emails saying it was my fault.”

Dillon Wyckoff told The Des Moines Register that Mason was his world and that the two were best friends.

On July 24, family and friends of Mason gathered outside the toddler’s home in Grimes, Iowa, releasing blue balloons with messages that read “fly high with the angels, sweet Mason.” Blue was his favorite color and the color of his special blanket. Memorial services were held July 30.

Mason Edward Wyckoff

He called himself, “Me Me,” his father called him Edward, and grandpa called him everything. He was full of energy, surrounded himself with stuffed animals, especially cows, loved to fly a kite, and watch his YouTube videos, which he called, “his games.” In his short time here, he touched our hearts and made us smile.

He was a loveable little boy and will be missed by all who knew him, including his father, Dillon E. Wyckoff; mother, Stephenie Erickson; sister, Taylor; brother, Tanner; paternal grandparents, Michele Cunningham (George Stanley) and Brent Wyckoff; maternal grandparents, Steven and Stacy Brown; great-grandparents, Edward and Margaret Cunningham, Olive Wyckoff and Dick Brown; uncles and aunts, Jesse (Kim) Wyckoff, Sheila and Scott (Heidi) Brown; his dog, Buddy, his cats, Colby “Clobbers” and Mia and Mr. Toad; along with his many extended family members and daycare friends.

A plumber at heart, Mason enjoyed playing in water:


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