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

Ryan Morgan, left, with his brother Nathan

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,, as soon as they are available.

Related posts:

  1. Marine dies in motorcycle accident near Palomar Mountain
  2. Marshal Thrasher earns Ramona High Male Athlete of the Year honors
  3. Ryan Morgan, football and track
  4. Timeout with Tambo
  5. Motorcycle chase starts in Poway, ends in Ramona

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Jun 4 2012. Filed under Featured Story, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

44 Comments for “Stellar athlete, West Point cadet dies in motorcycle crash”

  1. karlena southworth

    So very sad. Ryan was an outstanding young man. My prayers go out to him and his family

    • D.Robinson

      I feel like the world lost a good one. I am heart saddened by the loss of this wonderful young man. God bless his family and friends.

    • Tanner Donaldson

      He was an Awsome Football player and an outstanding man You will be missed Ryan. #10 will always live in my thoughts and prayers. My prayers go out to his Family.

  2. Ian Nowakowski

    A friend of mine… An absolute tragedy.

  3. Bulldog Fan

    RIP Ryan ..

  4. Shannon

    A great young man and a terrific person! We miss you, Ryan! You will always have a place in our hearts….Love you! Shannon & David Williams

  5. Dan Brown

    A wonderful person. Ryan took time on many occasions to talk about football and track with me. He was a genuine and kind person. Our family's thoughs are with him and his family. -Dan Brown and family

  6. Kevin frelke

    ill never forget you brotha, my prayers go out to all his family and family and bulldog family, we're going to miss ya man

  7. Cori

    There are many heavy hearts in Ramona today. Ryan was much loved and respected in the community. My son and grandchildren knew him well and are devastated at this news.

    Please, everyone, drive carefully and slow down.

  8. Matt Laws

    Ryan My God be with you and your family

  9. Vicki Cohan

    My thoughts go out to Ryan's family including his grandmother Karene Keating of Poway who carried his picture with her with all the bragging rights of a proud grandmother.

  10. Kraus Family

    Our thoughts are with Ryan's family. His silence will be deafening.

  11. Tylor Ellard

    Thank you Tambo for the article explaining this and what Ryan meant to all of us… God bless you Ryan and thank you for everything.

  12. Mae Brundige-Smith

    my heart crashed today.

  13. Karen McGhee

    A huge loss for this community, but a larger hole in the heart of this family. God bless you all. You raised a wonderful young man who was an inspiration to so many young athletes who admired him and aspired to be like him on and off the field. He will be missed, but remembered always.

  14. CaptainCrunch

    sad to hear this, but he hasn't earned the military burial like the rest of us.

    • a guy

      How dare you post this trash you low-life.

    • Anonymous

      I hope they bury you next.

    • Terri

      Excuse me? The day Ryan arrived at West Point, he began his military career. I wish he didn't need to be buried, but this young man has earned and deserves a military burial. As a West Point Cadet Mom, I grieve with Ryan's parents. A very sad, sad day, indeed.

    • Rheynard Morgan

      The Army disagrees with you and after all he has done for the Army Westpoint Football I disagree as well. I always taught Ryan that if you don't have any good or positive to say than maybe you should not say it.

      Ryan's Father

      Rheynard Morgan

      • Julia Huey

        Amen, Rheynard!! Exactly why he was such an exceptional yourng man! My heart goes out to you and your family. And, yes . . . he knew you were there! Why else do you think he looked you straight in the eye and squeezed your hand so hard. I believe he was telling you what an exceptional father YOU were to HIM and how blessed he felt to have had such an outstanding family.

    • Terri

      Excuse me, but West Point Cadets are military and are entitled to all military benefits, including a military burial. I wish this military benefit wasn't used so early on in this Cadet's career. Apparently, you don't know that all cadets and midshipmen have earned and are entitled to this benefit. As a cadet Mom, I grieve the loss of young Ryan.

    • someone

      Ryan does earn a military burial, not something as big as 21 gun but he deserves it. Due to the fact he commited to going to the military. He could have went to any other school but he chose West point! His work ethic was great his attitude was amazing. He would have been a great addition to the United States Military!

      God Bless You Ryan!

      I pray that the Morgan family gets lifted up! As well as his friends!

    • Ryans Friend

      Sir/Ma’am, you are a vile human being. How dare you judge such a wonderful young man, who was training to protect YOUR freedoms! If given the choice, I would gladly give up YOUR freedom of speech for his life. I also find you to be a coward. Hiding behind a children’s cereal name is weak. You should have chosen one a little more appropriate, like “Fruit Loops”. I am choosing to remain anonymous for my own security as you seem to be a little disturbed. Using the word “Captain” in your screen name is just loathsome. I know and work with dozens of REAL Captains on a daily basis and not one of them would be as disgraceful as speaking ill of the dead, especially in a public forum like this and regarding a man who is as beloved as Ryan. YOU should be ashamed of yourself as I am ashamed that I have to take the time to write this to you. IF you have served, thank you for your service, now go back to your self-absorbed hole of ignorance and shut the Hell up! May God have mercy on your soul.

    • A veteran

      You are an idiot

  15. Ann Marie Nichols

    Our thoughts are with all of Ryan's family. He was a shining star. He will be missed.

  16. Alejandro Villegas

    I have admire Ryan since middle school at OPMS, got a chance to see him run at MT Sac that summer, daughter Silvia mention to me to watch the 400m and well, he will give a good run to Flash . Made me a Bulldog fan for 3 years as he was a running back ( remember Oside Pirates!) returning kicks for touchdowns.

    A wrong turnd took his life if only young boys will stay away of motorcicles and listen to their parents.

    Que dios te tenga en su gloria Ryan!

    el cielo es mejor hoy con tu presencia.

    Adios Amigo

    Villegas Family

  17. Missy D.

    My son is so sad, he said Ryan had only good things to say to the players…he remembers last Friday night his telling them all how proud he was of their hard work..he is in shock, as are they all…God Bless you Ryan..prayers….

  18. Bulldog alumni 2009

    Ryan, although I did not know you at a personal level, we played football on the same team, were students of rhs and that’s why I take my hat off to you sir, I know that you were one heck of an athlete, and an even better person. It’s sad that the good always go young, but you’ll be remembered in our small town for years to come. My prayers and deepest sympathy to the Morgan family. May he rest in peace.

  19. A MOM

    My heart is sad I feel that you never have a day that you dont think of your children. He left alot of good memories hold on tight it is a fight of your lifetime to not fall to your knees and bawl. Sometimes you just cant help it. Every parent that has lost a child thoughts are with you and ypour family.

  20. Nick Johnson

    I played football with him as a kid and his dad was the best coach i ever had. Shows that he had such a good family. Those were the best memories with Ryan. He was so fast and i would throw him the ball and he would make everybody in awe even at that early age. I don't even know what to say. Such a Tragedy to those who knew what a great guy he was and especially his family. We'll miss you bud. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his dad Rheynard.

  21. RenFaiz

    That is such a shame.

  22. Erin Hoye

    Although I never met him in person I watched him play quarterback for Ramona for his Junior and Senior year. You could see his love for the sport and his team mates. The is a very sad day for us in the Ramona community. My thoughts go out to all who were lucky enough to have this special kid in there life.

  23. rossy

    el senor queria un angel en el cielo y te escojio a ty en el reino de DIOS hay fiesta xq hay un nuevo angel

  24. Robyn

    West Point and the world lost a great young man on Sunday. Our prayers are with his family and friends.

  25. Julia Huey

    It was evident from the very first moment you met Ryan, that he was an extremely impressive young man all the way around! He had it all and his passing is a great loss to everyone privileged to have known him, as well as those he had yet to meet. He himself credited his “exceptional” attributes to his loving and supportive parents. In his words, "I have the best parents ever!" Judging by the young man he was, this is obviously a true statement by a very loving and grateful son. May his parents, his brother Nate, and his entire family find peace in knowing how he felt about all of you. He leaves behind a larger than life legacy . . . an incredible feat for such a young soul to have accomplished in the short period of time we were lucky enough to enjoy him here on earth. The thoughts and prayers of MANY (just look around you) are with his family now and always, for your son will never be forgotten! You were and are indeed, “the best parents ever!” Don’t forget that!! No one is to blame here . . . he was just needed somewhere else where he can continue spreading the love, strength and exceptional talents you bestowed and encouraged in him.

  26. Sally

    this a very sad and tragic thing. my heart goes out to his family and may this young man rest in peace. this could have been prevented. this is not the first death on a motorcycle, and yet people don't learn from others' mistakes. unfortunately this won't be the last death on a motorcycle either

    • humble servant

      sally, sally, sally,
      it is very sad and tragic indeed.

      but what's more tragic is the fact that you pointed out the obvious.

      really? this isn't the first and won't be the last death of a person on a motorcycle?

      please learn from your own mistake and refrain from making pointless, ridiculous comments.

      ryan's father and family already feel horrible enough about what has happened to their Ryan.

      Ryan was a cadet at USMA west point, maybe sally, you should look into what it takes to be accepted at west point. and what is expected of you when you graduate.

      from what i have read, he was selfless when it came to helping others, he will be missed by not only his friends and family but even by people like me who never knew him. it seems to me that he was doing some really wonderful things in his life and was always out to help others and be a great teammate.

      he will be remember for all of the good he has done in his short time on this journey of life.

      if he had died on a battlefield defending his country or enjoying the freedoms that he is entitled to enjoy in this country makes no difference to me.

      he was a good man. and for that, you sally, should be thankful.

      I am.

      godspeed you ryan, godspeed.

  27. Ralphael Gonzalez

    A truly sad scenario that was completely preventable. God's speed young man.

  28. RUSD Teacher

    As an OPMS teacher and RHS teacher, I got to meet Ryan years ago, then got to see him throughout high school. He was the sweetest young man who really did live by his word. Watching him run and play football was a work of art; so much grace both on and off the field.

    I also remember his dad being at EVERY event, driving him to and from in his truck. He loved him so much and was so proud. We all were. He was a remarkable human being, how sad that he will not get to carry on his bright, bright light.

    And, Nathan, I am so sorry you lost your brother. You are equally a bright light and a wonderful young man, I know you two were close and I know you will honor your brother with your life.

    Oh, Ryan, you will be so dearly missed. But, I know you are up in heaven kiddo, which gives us all comfort.

  29. Shawn

    I just found out about this from my son and I'm so very sad. My son who just graduated this year, 2012, always followed Ryan's Football & Track stats and would comment on how awesome he was. It is because of Ryan, too, that my son wears his black Nike socks the way Ryan did. :) RIP Ryan. Prayers go out to the Family and the Ramona Community.

  30. danielle davis

    my family and i knew Ryan we knew him from when he was 4years old i was also close to his brother Nathan.We had alot of fun times with Ryan andNathan.i loved them both where Julie morgan is my best friend so when i had my son at pomerado hospital ryan was there he got to hold my son and he was going to coach my son when he was older.Ryan is extremelly loved by my family and he is an exstronally young man and we all love him he will never will be forgoten.We do miss him husband useto always tease him and he use to laugh and tease my husband back .He will always have a place in our hearts.I really feel bad for Reynerd julie and Nathan my love goes out to them.Rest in peace Ryan oooxxx

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