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Cyclists killed in early morning crash shared passion for life with friends, family

LEHI — As he spoke with mourning neighbors and friends, Mike Vranes carried a picture of his smiling son-in-law, one of two men killed in a cycling collision with a pickup as they rode to work Wednesday morning.

"That is the way he is. He smiles like that and he lives life like that," Vranes said.

Bryan Byrge, 39, of Riverton, and John Coons, 35, of Herriman, were hit and killed as they attempted to turn east near the intersection of Redwood Road and 2100 North just after 6 a.m., according to police.

"The impact was pretty severe, and I believe they were both killed instantly," Lehi Police Lt. Darren Paul said.

Byrge and Coons were remembered Wednesday as passionate and active outdoorsmen who shared their love of sports with their families and neighbors, said Andy Sorter, a friend to both men.

"They took every opportunity to do fun things with their families, spend time with their families, and just enjoy life," Sorter said.

It was dark at the time of the collision, only days after the switch to daylight time, which may have contributed to the collision, Paul said. There were no immediate signs the 41-year-old driver was impaired or distracted at the time of the crash.

The driver was taken to an area hospital with minor cuts and injuries to his face, caused by his head hitting his pickup's windshield.

Vranes said his son-in-law, an avid cyclist who regularly competed in races between Logan and Jackson Hole, would ride to work once a week with fellow cyclist Coons as part of his training.

Both men were safety-conscious, Vranes said, and would bike together for protection as well as companionship. Sadly, their safety efforts didn't prevent Wednesday's tragic accident, he said.

"I don't know what happened," Vranes said.

Cycling was just one of Byrge's many outdoor passions, Vranes said. The father of four loved to take his family mountain biking, skiing, boating, surfing and hiking. When he wanted added adventure, he would go heli-skiing, or take hybrid snowshoes and trek into the mountains, then assemble them and snowboard out.

Vranes said Byrge and his wife, Katie, were "meant for each other." The couple were sweethearts since high school, and both loved having an active lifestyle.

Todd Richins, LDS bishop for the Coons family, said Coons was likewise passionate about all kinds of sports and activities.

"He loved being out and being active, biking was one aspect," Richins said of the father of three. "He loved doing things, he loved life."

Byrge and Coons were also beloved for their work with the youths in their LDS wards. Young members from the men's congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were among those who gathered in the street outside both homes Wednesday, consoling one another.

"There are 50 young men in this ward who are going to be very sad that (Byrge) is gone," Vranes said. "He takes them out, he shows them how to do these things, and he's the one who's always there."

Coons was known for organizing neighborhood barbecues and pickup sports games with area children, Richins said.

"There are a lot of youth in the area who lost two individuals, Bryan Byrge and John (Coons), that really affected them and influenced their lives," Richins said. "John was a very outgoing and loving person, everyone knew John."

The wives of both men are also close friends, Richins said. He shared their appreciation for the kindness and comfort offered by so many people Wednesday.

"It's been overwhelming, but (Coons' wife) has been so appreciative because she hasn't wanted to be alone," Richins said. "The two ladies are good friends, the Byrges and the Coons, and they've spoken and gotten together and exchanged some hugs and some tears."

Contributing: Pat Reavy, Whitney Evans, Alex Cabrero

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