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Family of man hit, killed on N. 5th Street Highway say he suffered from drug addicition

By Dwayne Parker, Reporter, DParker@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 13 2012 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 14 2012 10:49:29 PM CST

Family of man hit, killed on N. 5th Street Highway speaks out

MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. -

The family of an accused shoplifter who was killed after trying to cross N. 5th Street Highway, says their loved one didn't deserve to die this way.

Tyler Shepler, 22, stole several pants from Walmart in Muhlenberg Township, and was fleeing from store security before he was struck by oncoming traffic, investigators said.

Tyler later died at Reading Hospital, police said.

But family members say Tyler should not be defined by this crime.

They say you must understand that he has been battling demons for 6 long years, and had his whole life ahead of him.

"Honestly just died of a disease. He was a drug addict, but he meant everything to me, and I still look up for him," said Courtney Shepler, who spoke bravely and lovingly about her big brother, Tyler.

"Tyler had the best heart in the world. He struggled with something. That's so important for people to realize, that addiction is a disease. It's nothing that should be judged," said Marsha Noecker, close family friend.

Just this year Tyler was also arrested in Palm Beach County, Florida on charges of petty theft and larceny.

But loved ones say these crimes don't paint a complete picture of who Tyler was.

They say he had the biggest heart of anyone they knew, and had he not been addicted to drugs he would have never taken those pants from Walmart.

"Had he not had an addiction, and had been battling a disease like this, he would not have been placed in that situation to have ended like this. It's horrible," said Noecker.

Tyler's sister explained how difficult it was to watch how the drugs took control of her brother and fueled his urge to commit crimes.

"He felt horrible after it," said Courtney Shepler. "He would tell us like, Court, I didn't mean to do it, I love you. I wouldn't, but I have to. He felt the urge that he had to, or he would die."

The Sheplers say they are a close-knit family, and will turn to their faith to get through this personal tragedy.