Family: Hit-and-run driver ‘left him there to die’

Travis Ryke. (Undated courtesy photo)

COOPERSVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Three days after a 24-year-old Coopersville-area man was killed around the corner from where he lived by a hit-and-run driver, deputies say they have no leads.

Authorities don’t have a description of the vehicle that killed Travis Ryke and aren’t sure it would have sustained damage, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mark Bennett told 24 Hour News 8 on Monday. They have received some tips, but haven’t identified a suspect or suspect vehicle.

Deputies say Ryke lay in the road alive for at least 15 minutes before help arrived.

Ryke’s family and friends wonder if he would still be alive if the driver had stopped.

“I’m choosing to personally believe that he couldn’t have been saved because if I felt for one second that by driving off he left my son to die on the road, I can’t deal with that,” Ryke’s stepmother Debbie Ryke said.

Deputies say Ryke had spent Friday evening at Champ’s Bar in Coopersville, then got a ride from another customer. That customer dropped him off not far from the home he shared on 24th Avenue with a roommate and his dog Angel.

“He almost made it,” his stepmom said.

Bennett said Ryke was last seen by a passerby kneeling in the road on Arthur Street, just west of 24th. It was dark — just before midnight — and he was wearing dark clothes. Bennett wonders if Ryke had dropped something in the road.

The passerby drove a short distance, then called 911 to report the kneeling man, Bennett said.

But by the time a deputy got there 12 minutes later, Ryke had been hit by a driver who took off. Ryke died later at the hospital.

A flower left near where Travis Ryke was hit and killed by a car as he walked home. (July 28, 2014)
(A flower left near where Travis Ryke was hit and killed by a car as he walked home. July 28, 2014)

An autopsy determined the cause of death was multiple traumas caused by being struck by a vehicle.

Ryke was a Coopersville High School graduate who worked as a landscaper. He wanted to eventually open his own bike repair shop.

“Travis was very goofy,” his stepmom said. “He was fun. He loved to have fun, he loved to be around people, he loved his bikes, he loved to fish.”

His roommate and stepmom wonder what might have happened if the driver who hit him had at least called 911.

“It’s bad,” roommate Gary Parney said. “They left him as dead and didn’t care to stop. He might have been around today if they would have stopped.”

“I just can’t force myself that any human being could possibly leave a person dying,” Ryke’s stepmother said. “I just have a better faith in humanity than that, but obviously they did because they obviously didn’t stop. They didn’t look. They left him there to die.”

The family has started an online fund to help with Ryke’s funeral costs. Donations may also be made to the “Rykes Bikes” memorial fund at My Personal Credit Union in Coopersville.

Visitation is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday at Throop Funeral Home in Coopersville. The funeral starts at noon Wednesday at the funeral home.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office at 616.738.4000 or Silent Observer at 877.887.4536.

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