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On June 25, 2014, we were packing up so we could close on the sale of our home the following Sunday. We had to be out by Monday. At about 1:00 p.m., two police officers came to our home. I immediately thought my son had somehow been in trouble. Not like him, but not entirely impossible either. Unfortunately, that would have been something to celebrate compared to the news we actually received. Our son had been involved in a fatal car crash at the intersection of Harrison and 12th Street in Ogden, Utah. He was killed almost instantly.
He and a friend were driving to the lake for a get-together. I still don’t know the reason they were coming the direction they were, but a bad decision on the driver’s part put them on a collision course with a full-size pickup truck. My son and his friend were in a Nissan Sentra. My son’s friend made a last second left hand turn into oncoming traffic which was traveling between 50-60 miles per hour. The driver of the truck didn’t have time to stop. My son, Ryan, took almost the full impact of the crash. The wheels were knocked off of the car my son was in and his door was embedded into the grill of the pickup. Both drivers walked away from the crash.
He was an amazing kid. I don’t even think we realized how amazing he was until we’d lost him. His passion was music; he was truly gifted. He learned how to play the guitar, drums, and piano, all within about six months. Another one of his gifts and passions was acting. He spent some time both in front and behind the scenes at several school plays and was amazing to watch. Ryan loved playing Magic: The Gathering with his friends and absolutely loved his longboard… don’t even think about calling it a skateboard! And, most importantly, he loved Jesus.
Ryan lived for his friends. They were always his priority, above everything else. He was an amazing listener. As we learned in the days after his death, he helped more people than we ever imagined deal with and avoid self-harm and suicide. A group of boys that Ryan was close to served as our pallbearers – something that was too devastating for me to ask of the adults in his life, so I asked his closest friends.
Our entire family is close and has been greatly affected by his death. He was the first and only grandson for eight years. Our church family was amazing after Ryan was killed. People we didn’t even know came to our aid. Our family lived all over the country and Roy Christian Church provided us with a place to come together on a regular basis to spend time together.
Ryan was loved by so many people that we were completely overwhelmed at the support we received during the hardest part of our lives. His little sisters adored him and we aren’t sure how to go on without him. We miss him; more than can be described. We will never be the same. Ryan was fortunate to spend his last moments with someone he cared deeply about. We were fortunate it wasn’t worse. Forgiveness has been instrumental in our healing, which is still a long way off.
Whenever you get into a car, please, PLEASE, remember it isn’t just you that is affected by the decisions you make when you are driving. You are responsible for more people than just yourself when you are behind the wheel. The consequences are farther reaching than anyone would ever want to experience.
Our son is gone. Some days his memory sparks laughter, and others, a torrential downpour of tears. We love and miss him more than can be expressed and hope he can make yet one more difference in someone’s life.