MIDWAY, Wasatch County - After supporting his wife as she and her friends ran the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay each June, Tyler Rasch decided to join the fun this year.
Just a few miles into his first leg of the 200-mile relay race, the Park City father of three collapsed about 8:15 a.m. in the Northern Utah town of Paradise. A paramedic and registered nurse saw Rasch collapse and immediately administered CPR, according to Cache County Sheriff’s Lt. Brian Locke on Friday. He was pronounced dead at Logan Regional Hospital a short time later.
The death stunned those who ran the race, which began Friday in Logan and ended Saturday at Soldier Hollow in Midway. At the finish line, family friends Jennifer Hardman, Janet White, Katie Peabody and Janet Agnew talked with runners about Rasch and collected donations to help his family deal with the financial costs of the tragedy. Hardman met the Rasch family when they moved into the Jeremy Ranch neighborhood where she grew up.
“Lisa and Ty became like a second mom and dad to me,” Hardman said. “He’s always been a mentor. He didn’t judge; he was so open minded and such a good person.”
Rasch offered comfort and guidance to many people in his life.
“He was the person you could lean on, the shoulder you could cry on,” she said. “He would make you laugh, but he would also set you straight if you needed.”
Rasch’s wife Lisa and three children – Jaden, Jessica and Jaxon – were the center of his universe. He and his wife were high school sweethearts, despite the fact that she attended Brighton and he graduated from Alta.
“His wife and kids were everything to him,” Hardman said. “They are the closest family and did everything together. The world lost a great man. At 46 years old, Ty was a greater person than most people will be in a lifetime.”
The Rasch’s oldest son, Jaden was serving an LDS mission in Santa Rosa, California, but was released from his service commitment yesterday after receiving news of his dad’s death. He flew back to Utah Friday night.
News of Rasch’s death spread quickly through the nearly 1,000 teams made up of six or 12 runners. They shared information and tears as they talked about ways they might honor him or help his family. Some teams dedicated their efforts to Rasch, even putting signs on their vehicles to let others know. Hardman said Rasch was training for the Spudman Triathlon in Idaho – a 1.5K swim, a 40K bike ride and a 10K run. He ran and cycled often and was very physically fit, Hardman said.
“This was totally unexpected,” Hardman said.
She said the neighbors began discussing how they could support the family the way the Rasches have alwvays offered help to others.
“He would do it for us,” Hardman said of trying to raise money for the family. “He was the first to start something to help others.”
Hardman said family and friends are incredibly grateful for the support offered by those who ran this weekend’s race.
It was difficult to find words to express the gratitude they felt for “their generous donations, kind words and tears of sorrow,” Hardman said. “Being at that booth today at the finish line helped all of us to realize what an amazing community of runners there are in Utah.” There is an account at America First Credit Union set up in Tyler Rasch’s name where donations will continue to be accepted. There is also a GoFundMe page where donations can be made. Rasch was participating in his first Ragnar with the company he works for, 4Life. In the past, he’d simply supported his wife and her friends.
“Ty would always show up with the camper and make dinner for their team,” Hardman said White told her. “Plus he’d have posters made and would have a group cheering them on.”
Hardman said Ragnar officials were compassionate and helpful to the family after Rasch’s death.
“They’ve been wonderful,” Hardman said, adding they plan to meet next week to talk how they can honor Rasch’s memory and support his wife and children.
“He’s the best man ever,” she said. “I don’t know what to say because there is too much to say. …God must have needed an angel on the other side.”
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