Friends and family of a former Windsor chef are banding together to help the family with medical expenses from their son’s tragic and sudden death last week.
Florian Wehrli, who opened Windsor’s Chimney Park Bistro in 2004, lost his 11-year-old son Amiel in an accident that occurred during the Wehrli’s Christmas party Dec. 15 at their home in Branchville, N.J.
“He was eating and he choked on a cookie,” Wehrli said. “He was with his friends in the room next to where the adults were. He collapsed there.”
He said Amiel’s 8-year-old brother Nohlan raised the alarm, but by the time Amiel’s parents got to him, he was already unconscious. The family immediately began performing CPR and soon an ambulance arrived to take Amiel to the hospital. He was later airlifted to a hospital in New York City where he was on life support until he died Tuesday.
Florian Wehrli said he and his wife Noverly have seen an outpouring of support from family and friends from all over, including Windsor.
“We still have a lot of friends in Windsor,” Wehrli said in a Thursday phone call from his home in New Jersey. “The response from the community and the support we’ve been getting is overwhelming.”
Amiel was one month into attending his new school in New Jersey, the Frankford Township School, when he was named student of month for whole district. His father said “he was very proud of it.”
“He reached out to a lot of people in his 11 years of life,” Florian Wehrli said.
The Wehrli family faces the costs of Amiel’s medical bills and funeral costs without the aid of insurance. Two months ago, he accepted a job as the executive chef at Triomphe, a restaurant inside the Iriquoi Hotel in New York City, which left him in health insurance limbo while he waits to get insured through his new employer.
In addition to Chimney Park Bistro, Florian Wehrli also opened up Chef’s Basket, a bistro and catering service, in 2007, before the damage from the tornado forced him to close the business. From there, he sold Chimney Park Bistro in 2007 and took a job as executive sous-chef at the Loveland Embassy Suites. In 2011, he moved his family to New Jersey to work as the executive sous-chef at Springs Bistro at Crystal Springs Resort before he eventually ended up at Triomphe.
The Wehrli’s small community of neighbors in Branchville has banded together to collect donations through a website to help the family with some of the costs.
The online memorial is collecting donations for the family at http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/amiel-wehrli-memorial/117932.
“By the time we made it back from the hospital, the community here had already heard the news,” Florian Wehrli said. “It was a chain reaction. Word spread very fast.”
He said the family would like to use some of the donations to create a “long-lasting memory” of Amiel, but he said he didn’t know yet what that might be.
“Were going to come out of this stronger,” he said. “I know he’s watching over us.”