Tyler was an amazing young man. His influence reached well beyond his family and friends. The selflessness he displayed throughout his short life was often shared with strangers in need, but this proud mom always managed to notice. Whether it was assuming care of a mentally handicapped man wandering around lost after a Jazz game, organizing a benefit concert for a family in need, or choosing to be an organ donor, Tyler was truly the epitome of giving.
On June 29, 2010, Tyler and his best friend Darrin, a young man who became a part of our family almost the minute Tyler met him, planned a “road trip to end all road trips.” It was to celebrate having Darrin back in Salt Lake, and to thoroughly enjoy summer before his next big challenge: senior year.
Friday, July 2nd, was to be the beginning of the most amazing weekend of my life. My sisters, my mom, a family friend, and I were going to Vegas for a girls’ weekend. I talked to Tyler, for the last time EVER, around 10:30 p.m. We were just arriving in Vegas; the boys were just an hour past Flagstaff, still nine hours from Salt Lake. We had a conversation on the phone, somewhat of an argument because they were still in Arizona, but we ended our call as always—with “I love you.”
On July 3, 2010, only one hour from home, Tyler and Darrin’s road trip came to a sudden and unexpected end. Traveling at normal freeway speeds in the early morning hours, the police think Darrin dozed off at the wheel. Tyler was quietly sleeping in the passenger seat, his seat belt, for some unknown reason, unattached. Tyler’s car slowly drifted onto the shoulder and then came in contact with the one thing we all pass every day and most likely take for granted. The car slid down the guardrail, until it caught the frame of the car, sheared off, and impaled the vehicle. Both boys were killed almost instantly. A third passenger, a man the boys picked up outside of Escalante, was severely injured, but alive.
I still remember like it was yesterday, receiving the devastating phone call that left two families, and countless others, changed forever. Nothing in my life could have prepared me for this. The thought that this tragedy could have possibly been prevented goes through my mind every day. It’s one of the hardest things to cope with. Instead of having my son with me, I am left with an emptiness that nothing can replace, and thoughts of “what if,” “should have”, and “if only” haunting me daily.
They were two boys simply living life to the fullest. They weren’t doing anything wrong. They weren’t speeding, driving distracted or driving recklessly. No one could have imagined the price Tyler and Darrin would ultimately pay for drowsy driving or not wearing a seat belt, or the price those of us left behind will be paying forever. I honored Tyler’s wish to be a donor. I hope those that received Tyler’s gift will in some way know how beautiful, how giving, how loved, my son really was.
Two friends died in this crash.