A Chandler boy died Monday when the makeshift swing set he was playing on toppled over.
Richard Xavier Espinoza, 9, was visiting his grandparents in Tonapah where he had spent the day building a fort and twirling around with three relatives on a horse hot walker turned into a swing set, family members said. A horse hot walker is a circular walker to warm up horses before riding.
The walker was made into a swing set by the boy’s grandfather 10 years ago. He had made the swing set similar to one his father had made for him.
Just before sunset Monday, the heavy poles of the swing set tipped over, crushing the child.
"His grandparents were right there watching him through the window and the kids were screaming and going toward the house," said his other grandmother and primary caretaker, Karen Peebles. "It was a terrible accident."
Known to his family as "Xavier," the boy enjoyed fishing, climbing trees and listening to people read books to him. He was "100 percent boy," his family said as they gathered to make funeral arrangements.
"There wasn’t a tree that boy couldn’t get into," Peebles said while choking back tears, "and I have big trees."
Xavier attended Hartford Elementary School and liked mathematics, family member said. He also loved gazing through telescopes, watching Pokemon and bouncing on his trampoline, they said.
"With him everything was special," said his father, Richard. "He was that special that you remember everything you do with him."
Such makeshift swing sets are not uncommon. Horse hot walkers are generally stable and are constructed mostly of metal and heavy-duty PVC piping, horse experts said.
"When I was little I rode those things around for hours and thought nothing of it," said Clay Scott, owner of Papago Stables. "I took my naps riding round and round in the swing."
The family is accepting donations to help cover funeral costs at any Wells Fargo branch, account number 8122447801.