Dewey Beach Surf Shop owner Tyler Hudson is recovering at Christiana Hospital from injuries sustained in a traffic accident involving a man now facing felony DUI and vehicular assault charges.
The incident happened July 16, when a man driving south on Bayside Outlet Drive failed to halt his vehicle at the stop sign at Shuttle Road. Hudson and six friends on mopeds were traveling west on Shuttle Road, when Hudson crashed into the crossing car. He was airlifted to Christiana Hospital in critical condition.
In the days since the accident, businesses and residents of Dewey Beach have adopted “Dewey Strong” and “Tyler Strong” mottos in support of the popular store owner.
A banner hangs on the wall at Dewey Beach Surf Shop, where visitors can write prayers, thoughts and good vibes for Hudson. Shop Manager Lauren Kelley said the wall used to display hundreds of apparel items, all of which have been sold out after community members flocked to patronize Hudson’s business after learning of his injuries.
“We’ve had record-breaking sales,” Kelley said. “We broke our record on Saturday, and broke it again Sunday by 11 a.m. We doubled it by 4 p.m. Sunday. If there’s one thing I know about Tyler, he wants this place to thrive.”
Kelley said Hudson’s mother asked her to focus on the shop’s success while her son recovers.
“She said not to focus on his injuries,” Kelley said. “He wouldn’t want people worried about him.”
Kelley said she’s working on restocking the store as quickly as possible, but the pandemic is still causing production and shipping delays. Small online orders can be placed at deweybeachsurfshop.com. She asked customers to be patient and follow the store on Facebook for updates; a secure donation site has now been set up at helptyler.org.
Angelica Clemmer said she’s known Hudson since the two were kids growing up in Rehoboth Beach.
“Tyler is an amazing person, always ready to help out,” she said. “His words to me are always, ‘What do you need?’ and ‘Let’s do it!’ We’re surfing buds. I taught him how to surf, so you can imagine how proud I am of him now. He’s my best friend and I love him so much.”
Hudson’s girlfriend Maddie Kelly, who works at Woody’s Dewey Beach Bar & Grill, said Hudson was on the way to a birthday party when the accident occurred.
“He’s getting better,” Kelly said. “His nurses said the improvement he’s made in just a few days should have taken weeks, if not months. He still has a long way to go. We tell him he has so many people rooting for him.”
Hudson is stable now, Kelly said, and he was moved down to a transitional unit. As the swelling is going down, clinicians are still finding facial fractures, she said, but he’s able to move his hands and legs, and is talking.
He is sometimes disoriented, Kelly said, but he’s breathing well on his own, and his personality is coming back strong.
“I told him, ‘You’re very handsome,’ and he said, ‘I know,’” she laughed. “We didn’t know what to expect, so anything is a good sign. At this point, we’re just happy he’s alive.”