The community of Bend came together Wednesday to honor a recent high school graduate, 17-year-old Ryan O’Connell.
Ryan was in a drowning accident over the weekend. On Wednesday, he was given an “Honor Walk.”
Those that knew him describe Ryan as someone who always had a smile on his face — one that won’t be forgotten.
“One of the most purest, nicest, kindest souls.” said teammate and friend Ry Rodriguez.
“He never had a bad day,” said Mountain View High School football coach Brain Crum. “He was smiling all the time.”
“I don’t think there is one person that could say a bad thing about him,” said teammate and friend Cayden Caballero.
“The world would be a better place if there were more people like Ryan,” said Mountain View Lacrosse club coach Geoff Neilsen.
Ryan just graduated from Mountain View with plans for college.
A son. Sibling. Teammate. Friend.
“He was just there for everybody,” said Caballero. “He was someone you could rely on and someone who you could really care for.”
The accident happened at the Tetherow pool. Tetherow released this statement:
“It is a very sad situation. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the O’Connell family.”
Ryan was sent to St. Charles Hospital with a severe brain injury. He passed away Tuesday night.
“It’s really, really hard to know that one of your better friends is longer going to be with you and you won’t be able to see him again,” said Rodriguez. “Especially growing up with him and his family.”
Ryan was an organ donor.
Around 500 people took part in Wednesday’s honor walk.
“You know it felt special,” said Rodriguez. “It felt like we were part of something bigger than just any one of us. Ryan touched all of our souls and he really made an impact on anyone out there and the amount of people that showed up, really just showed what he did for the community.”
The honor walk pays tribute to his organ donation gift to others as hospital staff wheeled Ryan from the ICU to an ambulance, which then transported him to Portland.
“To know that in his death and in his passing that so many other individuals are going to see their lives extended and to see their quality of life improved,” said Crum. That is really the ultimate sacrifice and I think a lot of people understood that when they were there today.”
One last goodbye to a soul that touched so many.
“Together as a community, as friends we can remember Ryan and what his legacy will be both at the school and his family and what we have here at Mountain View and at the same time lean on each other just a little bit to help move forward,” said Crum.
Those close to Ryan say special bonds are created through the Mountain View Lacrosse program.
“As a coach many people are interested in what lessons you impart upon your student-athletes. What many people don’t realize is how much you learn and are reminded of by the student-athletes you coach. Ryan overcame immense adversity overcoming a season ending knee injury his junior year. When he returned his senior year, Ryan was that bright light at every practice, always ready to get on the field, put in extra work, and compete with his teammates. After every game, win or lose, he would let us know he was so thankful to be competing with his friends and playing lacrosse. Ryan was absolutely grateful for every opportunity just to be out on the field. Being thankful and grateful for the opportunities in life are lessons Ryan taught and reminded everyone on the team. While he will be missed, his lessons remain. I’m thankful and honored I had the opportunity to coach such a fine young man and be reminded of some very important lessons. Make the most of each day and every opportunity. Thank you Ryan.” – Coach Dan Marut