Stellar athlete, West Point cadet dies in motorcycle crash
By Bill Tamburrino
Ryan Morgan, considered one of the best student/athletes that Ramona High School has produced, died in Palomar Medical Center Sunday as a result of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident on Pamo Road in Ramona. He was 21.
Morgan, a 2010 graduate of Ramona High School and a West Point cadet, was northbound on Pamo Road north of Burma Road when he was unable to negotiate a curve, California Highway Patrol Officer Brian Kattke reported. Morgan was the sole person on the motorcycle, a 2012 Yamaha R6, said Kattke, noting that Morgan was traveling at an unsafe speed for the descending roadway.
“The motorcycle went down the roadway and the driver was ejected from the motorcycle,” Kattke stated in his report.
Morgan, who was wearing a helmet, suffered major injuries and was transported by Mercy Air to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido. He died in the operating room at 7:41 p.m., the medical examiner reported. The accident occurred at 5:50 p.m., according to the CHP report.
Morgan is survived by his parents, Rheynard and Mary Morgan, his mother Julie
Morgan, brothers Nathan Morgan and Kyle Snyder, and sister Kassondra Snyder.
In Bulldog football, he earned three varsity letters and was the varsity MVP and Offensive Player of the Year his senior season. During his senior year he also was first team all Valley League, All CIF, All North County, and was chosen to play on the Alex Spanos High School All Star Football Classic.
His track career was even more stellar than his exploits on the gridiron. Morgan earned four varsity letters. He was All Valley League, All North County, All CIF, and he advanced to the State Track Meet three times.
He was the 2010 Student/Athlete of the Year at Ramona High School.
However, his records and honors as athlete are not what Ryan Morgan was about. It was the way he played and prepared to play and compete that set him apart.
“His character, work ethic, and dedication were second to none and he got those characteristics from his father,” said Damon Baldwin, his football and track coach. “Ryan’s parents instilled in him from an early age that one has to work hard and be dedicated be successful. And to Ryan and his parents success was measured by realizing his full potential.”
“I played football with Ryan from the time we were both 7 years old,” said Erik Ernst, his teammate and friend. “Sure he had speed, but he worked as hard as possible to be the best that he could be. He did not try to get by on his speed. He tried to work his hardest to use it to his advantage.”
“We were like brothers,” said Justin Godes, his friend, teammate, and fellow cadet. “We played football together but our number one goal was to graduate from West Point. I am going to work my hardest to reach that goal for both of us.”
Morgan was recruited out of high school by several universities for track and football, but he made one visit to West Point and decided that the United States Military Academy was where he wanted to be. He attended the United States Military Academy Preparatory School for a year to get his math and English skills up to par. He attended West Point for a semester and was planning to return in the fall.
When the news of his death spread throughout the community, an impromptu candlelight vigil was held at the track and football stadium at Ramona High School.
During his semester off from West Point, Ryan volunteered as a track coach at Ramona High School. His players had this to say about him:
“He saw potential in us and made us work to achieve it.”
“He led by example. He was an awesome role model.”
“He inspired me to be my best.”
High school counselor Jim Plum stated one of Morgan’s best attributes was, “He gave back. He volunteered as a coach for track and spring football because he wanted to help others.”
Another characteristic that his teammates and those he coached praised him about was, “He never put himself on a pedestal. He treated everybody as an equal. When I first met him, I had no idea that he was the guy that I saw running for all of those touchdowns. I was in seventh grade and he treated me like I was on the varsity.”
“He was a great athlete, but he was a better person,” said Ramona High School Principal Tony Newman when addressing the varsity football team on Monday morning. “That is why we are in mourning today.”
Ramona High School made counselors available for any student needing grief counseling.
A military burial at Miramar National Cemetery is planned, his father said Monday. Details will be posted on the Ramona Sentinel website, ramonasentinel.com, as soon as they are available.
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