Family, friends mourn Ryan Stewart Allen
Steamboat Springs teenager died Monday of unknown causes
October 30, 2009
Steamboat Springs — Ryan Stewart Allen had a way of making people laugh.
For teachers and classmates, it might be a speech assignment turned stand-up routine. For his girlfriend, he would break out into spontaneous dance. And his mother never learned that he might be hiding behind a door, waiting to jump out and startle her.
“It always got a great reaction,” Allen’s mother, Tammy Stewart, said Thursday. “He just thought it was hilarious, and I fell for it every single time. : His second calling could have been a stand-up comic. He was absolutely hilarious.”
Allen, 16, died unexpectedly Monday. His loss is felt hard both by his family and in the halls of Steamboat Springs High School, where the avid skater and snowboarder was known to roam in his hallmark tall T-shirts and giant sweat pants.
“Everyone’s really sad. No one understands,” said Allen’s girlfriend, Camille Bucci. “He treated me better than anyone ever has and anyone ever will. : He always stayed strong and he always stayed happy.”
Allen was a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School and a member of the Sk8 Church youth group. Stewart said her son was excited about getting his driver’s license and the upcoming ski season.
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Allen’s cause of death is not yet known. He had a tonsillectomy Oct. 23 and was recovering at home when he got sick Sunday and had to be taken to the emergency room. He was treated and sent home, where he went to sleep in his bedroom, Stewart said. Stewart said she checked on her son every couple of hours.
Early Monday afternoon, she found him unresponsive in his bed, called 911 and performed CPR while she waited for an ambulance. Shortly after arriving at Yampa Valley Medical Center, Stewart was told her son had died.
Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said an autopsy was performed Wednesday in Jefferson County, but a determination of Allen’s cause of death is pending the results of a toxicology report.
“I hope that we get an answer,” Stewart said. “He loved his mother. I admired my son. I absolutely adored my son and so we had a really close relationship. : I don’t know how I face my life without my son. He was just a bright, shining star. He blessed everyone he touched. I don’t know how you go on without him. You do, of course.”
Stewart said Allen was diagnosed with epilepsy about six months ago. He struggled with the disease and the side effects of medication for several months, she said, but things had been better since August.
“He wanted to be a doctor or neurologist to help kids with that stuff because he knew how devastating it was and how it could change your life,” Stewart said. “I know he has a perfect body and he’s not sick anymore. But the rest of us have to go on without him, and that’s incomprehensible.”
Upon hearing the news Monday, the Steamboat Springs School District responded by providing teachers an announcement to read to their classes and by assembling its “crisis team,” said School Resource Officer Josh Carrell, of the Steamboat Springs Police Department. The team includes community members, district staff, mental health professionals and counselors. The high school library also was made available for students to gather and talk.
“The school does a great job of doing everything they can to make sure we don’t forget a student, we don’t miss anybody,” Carrell said. “Anytime a youth in our community passes away, it affects us all.”
Bucci created a Facebook group in Allen’s honor Tuesday. By 5 p.m. Thursday, the group had 524 members, which Bucci said is a testament to Allen’s popularity and good nature.
“It’s amazing,” Bucci said. “He knew how to make people smile. That’s for sure.”
A public viewing is from 6 to 7 p.m. today at Yampa Valley Funeral Home. A memorial service, followed by a life celebration, is at 11 a.m. Saturday at Steamboat Christian Center. Memorial donations can be made to Steamboat Springs Community Christian Center, P.O. Box 770968 Steamboat Springs, CO 80477.