Last week, a Mishawaka teenager was killed after a car crash. A.J. Ryor was driving two friends home from the movies when he lost control of the car and crashed on Capital Avenue between Jefferson and Lincoln Way.
Ryor’s friends and family decided to celebrate his life Tuesday night with a candlelight vigil at the Baker Complex baseball field. Dozens of people trickled onto the field wearing t-shirts with Ryor’s baseball number displayed on them.
“It’s amazing,” said Bobby Beaver, Ryor’s dad. “This is what shows how many kids he touched, how many kids he made smile, how many he made laugh.”
The two friends who were in the car with Ryor the night of the crash were in attendance at the vigil. They said the support they have gotten from Mishawaka High School classmates and their families has really helped them get through this tough time.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Andrew Beck, one of the passengers in the car. “I never thought anything like this could happen. “
Ryor’s friend Gabe Helmus was in the car, too. He said it is still hard to grasp that Ryor is gone.
“It was hard to believe,” Helmus said. “I couldn’t really accept it.”
As friends and family mourn, they have also found a way to look back at the positive impact Ryor had on so many. The vigil’s location has special meaning because Ryor was a Mishawaka baseball player. His number, one, adorns the fence.
Despite the fact that he is gone, the mention of Ryor’s name brings a smile to many faces.
“There was never a dull moment with him,” said Wynter Beaver, Ryor’s step-sister.
“He was always making me laugh,” Helmus said.
As the sky darkens, those who loved Ryor light up the sky on their own using Chinese lanterns. One by one, they release the lanterns into the sky as a way to honor Ryor’s memory.
“I’m going to miss him every day,” his dad said.