GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the man who died after he was hit by a steel door at a Grand Rapids restaurant during storms on Saturday.

Tyler Blakslee died at a hospital after firefighters found him with “traumatic injury” at Sandy Point Beach House restaurant in Grand Rapids Saturday night. Grand Rapids Fire Department Lt. Bill Smith said a big, hinged door hit Blakslee during the stormy weather.

Sandy Point Beach House restaurant in Grand Rapids. (July 26, 2022)

The medical examiner said Blakslee suffered deadly injuries to his chest and ribs.

On Monday, Lansing School District confirmed that Blakslee had been a teacher at Lansing Eastern High School for 15 years, from 2005 to 2020, according to a release. It said that he had been an English language arts teacher who also taught diploma programme-level film studies and served as the Quiz Bowl advisor, as well as the Eastern Quaker Horror Club founder and advisor.

“Mr. Blakslee’s sense of humor, style, and energy impacted all who had the pleasure of knowing him. He will be truly missed,” wrote the district.

The release said that the school would be open and the district would be available for any staff that needed support. They also linked to grief resources.


Malori Barnhart and Christopher Loring are incoming seniors at Western Michigan University. But just a few years ago, they had Blakslee as their English teacher at Lansing Eastern High School. They say he was one of a kind.

Loring called Blakslee “the most genuine person you could ever meet.” He said Blakslee was always there for his students.

“You could go to him crying and walk out feeling ten times better,” Loring said.

When Barnhart learned about Blakslee’s death, she couldn’t believe it was real.

“You hear the story, and you’re like, ‘No way, no way that would’ve happened,” Barnhart said. “But it was.”

Loring was studying all Sunday until he went on social media and learned about Blakslee’s passing.

“My jaw dropped,” Loring added. “I was speechless. It was just so surreal.”

Loring and Barnhart said their former teacher taught them lessons that stay with them today.

“He said a couple things that really stuck with me throughout the years,” Barnhart said. “One specifically was talking about good things coming in and out of our lives. ‘If it comes, let it come. If it goes, let it go. If it stays, you better be damn sure to let it stay.’”

“All the quotes that we have, we just reflect on,” Loring added. “We still live by to this day.”

They said it’s clear Blakslee had a “big impact.”

“I’ve been seeing posts on social media from people who were classes and classes before us,” Loring said. “I know a lot of people when they found the news, it hurt a lot of people greatly because of just who he was as a person.”

They said Blakslee was passionate about horror films, even drawing sea monsters and placing skeletons in his classroom.

“He was very passionate about the stuff that he did,” Barnhart said. “It really showed. I think it made it a lot easier for students to relate to him and make connections because he was so open about who he was.”

Blakslee’s horror film club movie nights were popular, they said.

“Everyone would get together, pop some popcorn, and we’d watch horror movies in his room,” Barnhart said. “We would go to places to watch horror films because it was too many people to have in a classroom.”

Barnhart and Loring had wanted to plan a reunion with their former teacher.

“We were going to try to get our class back together to have a movie night,” Loring said. “That was our thing.”

They said Blakslee genuinely cared about his students and always tried turning things into lessons.

“If he could make it teachable, he did,” Loring said. “Because he knew that it would be applicable to the real world.”