Marengo and surrounding communities gathered Friday evening at Highland High School in prayer for healing of 18-year-old Ryder Steck, of injuries he sustained following a car accident July 27, 2014.
Highland High School opened its doors again Saturday night for the community after learning Ryder passed away.
Ryder was reportedly on his way to work last Sunday morning when the accident occurred along State Route 314. His vehicle flipped and Ryder was ejected, sustaining life-threatening injuries. Steck had been in critical condition at Grant Medical Center on a ventilator and in an induced coma.
Signs of support covered Main Street in Marengo but could also be found in Fulton, Chesterville, Mt. Gilead and other areas across Morrow County.
At the community prayer Friday at Highland High School, event organizer Michelle Croy said, “In the worst of times, this small town was showing its best. This community is very small, but when something like this happens, we see how big we become and rally around someone in a time of need.”
Members of Big Walnut Joint Fire District and Morrow County EMS attended the event in support of the family.
Ryder was supposed to be starting his senior year at Highland High School, where he ran cross country and track. The team’s first practice was set for Friday.
Instead, the community gathered on the track to hold hands and say a prayer on his behalf. Chaplain Dave Matos led the community in prayer as attendees encircled the track and joined hands. Matos shared that Ryder was his neighbor and described him as an “incredible young man.” After the prayer, those in attendance formed a human script spelling out Ryder’s name on the field.
Ryder’s Uncle Bryan Damron said of the community support,“It’s absolutely amazing. He is a very special young man. His family has deep ties to the community. His Aunt Rhonda is the barber in Marengo. His grandfather used to be the barber in Marengo. His Dad, Aunt and Uncle all went to Highland.”
Family members reported that his parents rarely left his bedside, where Ryder suffered from multiple injuries, including a head injury and broken back. They credit Morrow County EMS crews and first responders with saving Ryder’s life.
“The support has been unbelievable,” said Ryder’s Uncle Randy Steck. “If I were speaking for his mother, his mother would really want it to be known that the Fire department and Morrow County EMS saved his life. Top surgeons down there have said to them that they saved his life.”
In a 10TV interview, Ryder’s parents said he was making progress but had suffered an infection.
Those following the progress of Ryder Steck on the Facebook page dedicated to supporting him, Ryder’s Fighters, were saddened to read the post of his passing from sister Parker Steck.
“Even though my brother is a tough boy, he lost the fight today,” she said. “My family and I thank everyone for the prayers. During this difficult time, we all need to stick together. Ryder would want us all to be strong for him, while he watches over us. We love you Storm Boy!”
Investigators have ruled out alcohol and drugs as factors in the crash. A search of his phone showed he wasn’t texting, and he was wearing a seatbelt. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
On Ryder’s Fighter’s Facebook page, mother Kila Steck had one request, that Ryder’s cousin Kalven Baer, a marine stationed in Afghanistan, carry Ryder to his final resting place. He is not immediate family so was not granted emergency leave.
As of Monday evening, a post by Kila Steck shared the following message: “So once again I am in great awe at the power of the prayers from my friends…and my family. It isn’t everyday that my cell rings and it is the congressman Pat Tiberi, but today I did from himself. He said that he spoke to the highest commanding officer in the United States Marine Corp and Kalven has been granted leave to come home to lay his cousin to in his final resting place…..thru all this sadness and all this heartbreak, my God is a God of kindness and I asked him for one piece of comforting and he gave it to me. So thank you every one who reached out.”
Reach Donna Carver at 419-946-3010 ext. 1804 or Twitter@MorrCoSentinel.