For the friends and family of Tyler VonRuden — who died after a fall from the Isla Vista bluffs on Sept. 25 — the 22-year-old Santa Barbara resident will always be remembered as a kind, passionate and laid-back person.
Tyler VonRuden was found at 9:30 a.m. by a passing jogger on the beach below the cliffs at Sea Lookout Park, located at the end of the 6700 block of Del Playa Drive. Investigators are still unclear about the cause of Tyler VonRuden’s death and are awaiting the results of a toxicology report — which will not be released for at least another week — before they make any official claims about the way he died.
On Friday, Sept. 30, Tyler VonRuden’s family held a memorial service in Washington, where he lived for much of his life. His mother, Melody VonRuden, said her son had a passion for baseball, participating in little league and playing for his high school’s team. In honor of his love of baseball, his family requested donations for the Glenwood Little League in Washington in lieu of flowers after his death.
Melody VonRuden said her son was a generous person and she will always remember his lighthearted laughter. She said her son had a promising future ahead of him, and his young age made his death all the more tragic.
“It wasn’t time for him to go — he had a lot of life,” she said.
Tyler VonRuden, who worked at Home Depot for four years, spent the past year working at the store’s Goleta location. He met many of his friends at the store, including co-worker Jared Slattery, who held a small memorial service for Tyler VonRuden the day after his death.
Slattery said he held the memorial so he could say goodbye to his friend. He said Tyler VonRuden was a loyal friend whose presence will be missed by all of those who knew him.
“I love that kid more than anything,” Slattery said. “He was always down to do anything — he always had your back.”
Mark Ervin, a friend of Tyler VonRuden’s who also works at Home Depot, said he was a cheerful person who focused on enjoying life.
“He just wanted to stay a kid,” Ervin said. “He was fun-loving and he loved the outdoors.”
Following Tyler VonRuden’s accident, Melody VonRuden said she plans to take action to prevent other people from sharing the fate of her son.
Everyone in the community knows that the combination of inebriated residents and steep cliffs is dangerous, she said, and despite the concerns of some residents — who think extra fencing on the cliffs will ruin the view from blufftop parks — there need to be more effective barriers on the bluffs to help prevent future accidents.
“This has happened before,” she said. “It will happen again. I understand they want to preserve the beauty, but I wanted to preserve the beauty of my son.”
Slattery said he hopes Tyler VonRuden’s accident will teach people to be more careful around the cliffs.
“I just hope people will realize and remember what happened to him and take care of themselves,” Slattery said. “It could happen to someone else, to someone else’s friends.”
Tyler VonRuden is survived by his parents Steve and Melody, his brother Josh and his sister Larissa.