Community honors ‘a great person, a great teammate, a great friend’
February 8, 2011
By Laura Geggel
Friends and family gathered at Issaquah High School on Feb. 2 to honor and celebrate the life of Tyler Lucas, an 18-year-old lacrosse player who died in a car accident on Interstate 405 on Feb. 1.
More than 100 of his peers and lacrosse coaches attended, holding candles that lit up the dark, clear night as they remembered a teammate who inspired them to play with a passionate verve.
Students stood silently in circles, praying, wiping away tears and hugging friends. Issaquah High School Lacrosse Junior Varsity Coach Mark Greenhall broke the silence, reading a letter his son wrote to Tyler’s parents, Patty and Jim Lucas.
“He was a great person, a great teammate, a great friend,” Greenhall said, reading from the letter that described Tyler as a confident athlete whose magnetic personality always attracted a crowd of friends wherever he went.
As more people stepped up to share their memories of Tyler, his mother Patty Lucas thanked the crowd and told her son’s friends that her house would always be open to them.
“I don’t ever want it to be quiet,” she said.
Her husband Jim said he would continue attending lacrosse games so he could watch his son’s friends play. Tyler went to Issaquah High School until his junior year, when he transferred to Chrysalis School in Woodinville. At Chrysalis, he raised his grades, but continued playing varsity lacrosse for the Issaquah High School lacrosse team.
Dominican University of California, a Division II school, accepted him and two of his close friends, Kevin Powers and Jake Fritz. All three planned to play lacrosse together, just as they had at Issaquah High.
“My son, he died, but he died working towards his dream,” Jim Lucas said. “We should all be so lucky to die chasing our dreams.”
Picking up his son’s helmet, he encouraged Issaquah High to start a tradition, giving Tyler’s helmet to the player with the most spirit.
“I want the team to think about who’s going to take the helmet next year,” he said. “I think that would be a great tradition to pass on.”
Lacrosse players from Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Issaquah, Mercer Island, Sammamish and Skyline high schools spoke, thanking Jim, Patty, and Tyler’s older brother Ryan Dean, for raising such a caring and charismatic young man.
“For as long as I’ve known him, he’s always had the ability never to burn bridges with the people he knew,” Bellevue High School student Sam Leggett said. “There’s not many kids that can do that. He had a knack for making more smiles in a room than when he went in.”
Issaquah High senior A.J. Hoffman remembered how some classmates picked on him in middle school, “but never Tyler,” he said. “He always had nice words to say to me and changed my middle school experience and my life even.”
Tyler’s friends also created a Facebook memorial page that attracted almost 2,000 likes in the days after the accident.
Other students recounted how seeing Tyler play lacrosse inspired them to take up the sport.
“I just looked up to him so much, more than anybody really knows,” Issaquah High junior Cole Lindor said. “We’re all going to really miss him.”
Skyline junior Jack Pruitt remembered a lacrosse tournament he played in with Tyler in San Diego. Pruitt had a rough game, but Tyler supported him throughout.
“Tyler looked at me from the sideline and said, ‘Pruitt, I know you’ve got one more in you,’” he said. “I could have sworn that I didn’t. Tyler was the epitome of sportsmanship.”
Former Skyline student Brennan West said Tyler was the only student who could pull off a pink sweatshirt, and Travis Wright, an Issaquah High alumnus, recalled Tyler’s rainbow shoes.
Tyler continued to play lacrosse even after doctors diagnosed him with juvenile diabetes in middle school. Even with his health challenges related to diabetes, his former girlfriend Alex Nelson said she learned three important lessons from him — how to roll with the punches, find something to love passionately — like lacrosse — and not let other people’s opinions interrupt life.
After nearly three hours, Jim Lucas ended the vigil, saying Tyler had never been much of a sentimental person.
“If Tyler were here, he’d be itching to go,” he said.
Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.