Tributes grow for boy who collapsed on field, died

Ionia County

SARANAC, Mich. (WOOD) — Memorials are growing as students in Saranac mourn the loss of one of their own.

Skylar Lasby, a seventh-grader at Saranac Junior/Senior High, died late Wednesday night after collapsing during football practice.

A witness told News 8 that it initially looked like the boy was having a seizure. A nurse who happened to be around rushed to help him. The witness said the nurse and emergency responders worked on Skylar for more than an hour before Aero Med arrived. He was flown to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, where he later died.

“Skylar was a great kid, very energetic and full of life,” said Saranac Community Schools Superintendent Jason Smith. “Just an awful tragedy.”

The school has not released any details about what led up to Skylar’s medical emergency, only saying he collapsed during a non-contact drill. CPR was performed on Skylar before he was taken to the hospital.

Football tackle practice equipment along fence on football practice field
Equipment rests on the practice field for Saranac Community Schools. (Aug. 29, 2019)

“It’s been a very, very tough day for everybody, students and staff,” said Smith.

The school has already started planning ways to honor Skylar, including a moment of silence at Thursday night’s football game at Beal City. Saranac’s superintendent took the mic at the rival field to ask for prayers for the Lasby family and the school community.

“In a message from Skylar’s parents this morning, (they said) ‘Please have kids play hard at their game tonight. Skylar’s favorite thing was football,’” Smith told the crowd.

The Saranac team members wore Skylar’s jersey number on their helmets, a decision the coach said was reached at an emotional team meeting just hours after Skylar died.

“Let’s do a number, let’s show a number on the helmets for now and then we’ll move forward into a program-wide varsity, JV and youth to have the same number program-wide,” said Andy Lytle, the varsity football coach at Saranac. “It’s in honor of Skylar, obviously. We’re dedicating this game tonight and the season to him and his family.”

In addition to the Saranac players and cheerleaders, the Beal City coaches also wore No. 2 and the take from the Beal City Athletic Boosters 50/50 raffle went to the Lasby family.

“We’re very much a large extended family, we care about each other very much. Some folks have already started some decals for helmets and some things online to help the family,” Smith said.

Community members say those close to Skylar can rest assured they have a tribe behind them.

“If one falls, we all fall,” said Trent Buck who owns a barbershop just blocks away from the school. “We’re here to help each other and pick each other back up.”

Buck’s Stop barbershop on Bridge Street is one of several businesses in downtown Saranac that have posted signs paying tribute to Skylar.

sign inside window shows Lasby name and dates
A sign posted in the window of Buck’s Stop barbershop in Saranac pays tribute to Skylar Lasby, who collapsed during football practice and later died.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. I don’t even know what you do after a devastating loss like this. You just have to turn to your faith,” said Buck.

The community says losing Skylar is something they’ll be working through for quite some time.

“Our focus right now is maintain as much normalcy as possible and to supply supports to the family as well as our students and staff here,” said Smith.

sidewalk leads to saranac school
An Aug. 29, 2019 photo shows Saranac Jr./Sr. High School.

The school says there will be grief counselors and psychologists available to students for as long as they need them.

If you’d like to help the Lasby family, a family friend has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover Skylar’s funeral costs.

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