Brandon Hydrick loved soccer, kayaking, triathalons, his girlfriend, his friends and his family.
The 26-year-old Athens man lost all that he loved early Saturday morning after a man, fearful of thieves, shot into the truck Brandon was riding.
Brandon and his younger brother, 25-year-old Ryan, were lost in a pickup truck in the predawn hours that morning.
“They had been at a bonfire on the land of family friends,” Brandon’s older sister, Jessica Hydrick Nichols, said Monday. “They hadn’t been out joyriding. The landowners knew they were going to have a bonfire.”
When the gathering ended, the brothers dropped off a friend at his campsite and prepared to head home in their truck. Unfamiliar with the area, they could not find their way and ended up on Fennell Lane, a dead-end road in the Belle Mina area of Limestone County. “They tried their cellphones but couldn’t get any service,” Jessica said, tearfully. “They were just lost.”
Nearby on Fennell Road, Joel Moyers, 52, of Cullman, who was living in a trailer there, saw the truck in the dark early morning and thought it looked suspicious, Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said. Worried about thefts in the area and thinking the men were up to no good, Moyers grabbed his AK-47 and went outside to follow the truck on foot, the sheriff said.
The truck, driven by Ryan, remained on Fennell Lane for about 10 minutes and then turned and came back in Moyers’ direction, the sheriff said. Moyers shined a flashlight and tried to get the occupants to stop so he could get a tag number, Blakely said. Seeing the gun and feeling unsure of what Moyers wanted, Ryan sped away down Fennell Road, Jessica said.
Moyers told authorities he then fired a warning shot into the air.
However, a round hit the tailgate, pierced the cab and the seat, and then struck Brandon in the back, the sheriff said.
My poor brother,” Jessica said of Brandon. “And Ryan was there for all of it.”
The truck ran off Fennell Road into a wooded area. Ryan called 911 and waited.
Moyers returned to his home and waited for emergency workers and authorities to arrive.
Brandon was declared dead at the scene.
In the days since the shooting, Jessica said friends and family members have pondered what they might have done differently.
“People blame themselves, but how can you prepare for an AK-47?” she said.
Today, Brandon’s parents, Phillip and Donna Hydrick of Harvest, along with Jessica and Ryan, both of Athens, must do the unthinkable — plan a funeral for their son and brother. Berryhill Funeral Home will announce arrangements.
More than anything, Jessica wants people to know Brandon was more than this tragedy.
“He was an avid outdoorsman and he was big into soccer,” she said.
Their father, a soccer coach at Sparkman High School, taught all three children to play soccer at an early age.
“Brandon had been playing since he was 4, and he still does it,” Jessica said. “He was part of the Huntsville Men’s Soccer League.”
With an associate’s degree in electrical engineering, Brandon worked for Halo Monitoring in Huntsville, where he set up health monitoring devices for the elderly and homebound and taught them how to use devices that could save their lives. He was planning to go to the University of Alabama – Huntsville to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, Jessica said.
She said he would have gone this semester but didn’t have his immunizations up-to-date.
He loved his girlfriend, Bronwen Murray, Jessica said.
“They had been together about a year.”
On Monday, bond was set at $260,000 for the man accused in the fatal shooting.
District Judge Jerry Batts set four conditions of bail for Moyers:
• He must surrender all firearms;
• He must refrain from possessing a firearm while on bail;
• He must refrain from coming to his property at Belle Mina;
• He must move back to his home in Cullman.
Moyers is also charged with murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle.