PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local teen was killed Friday night after he fell out of the back of a pickup truck.
Ryan Richards, 17, was riding in the bed of a Ford pickup truck Friday night with three others on Saxonburg Road in West Deer.
Police say when the pickup came to a bend in the road near Poplar Street, Richards – who was standing with his hands on the cab – was thrown from the vehicle. He died a short time later.
“It’s just hard to believe that it happened,” said Nikki Misejka, a former classmate of the victim. “Waking up this morning to a text saying that; just couldn’t do nothing but cry.”
Several former classmates at Highlands High School received the tragic news Saturday morning.
The Highlands School District released a statement saying, “Richards was a well-rounded student athlete entering his Senior year. Ryan excelled in the football arena and baseball field. He will be sadly missed by faculty, coaches and teammates and fellow classmates.”
“He was a nice kid,” said Jared Thompson, a former classmate. “He was smart, too. He was in honors classes.”
“I cheered and he played football. He was just the sweetest guy I know,” Amber Reigard, a student at the high school, said. “He would always say hi and just talk to you, always had a smile on his face.”
“He was in my chemistry class, and he would just lighten the mood,” added Isabella Augustine, another student.
Police say four others were riding in the cab of the truck. No details are available on the driver and other factors in the accident, which is being investigated by Allegheny County detectives.
Students say a lesson will be learned from this tragedy.
“Now they all know not to do that again, maybe they’ll think twice about doing crazy stuff like that,” said Misejka.
“I think definitely people are not going to be as carefree and horseplay when they’re out driving,” said Augustine. “I think they’re going to be a lot more careful.”
The District also says it will have counselors available Monday morning.
District officials say they have also planned a candlelight vigil to celebrate Richards’ life. It will be held Sunday at 8:30 p.m. in the high school F – Wing parking lot. Also, Highlands High School will be accepting donations for the Richards family. They can be dropped off at the high school office on Monday and Tuesday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
As for funeral plans, visitation will be held on Tuesday, July 16 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Duster’s Funeral Home in Tarentum. A funeral Mass will be held on Wednesday, july 17 at 9:30 a.m. at Holy Martyrs Church in West Tarentum.