CRESCENTA VALLEY — Eighth-grader Tyler Sikora was remembered and celebrated by families, teachers, students, administrators and community members for his friendliness and humor during a candlelight vigil Friday night at Crescenta Valley High School.
Tyler, 15, died Thursday night after a basketball game with his brother, a Crescenta Valley High senior, and their friends. During a break, he collapsed.
“He loved being with his older brother; he worshiped him,” said Tyler’s father, Tim Sikora. “He loved NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt Jr. He’d tell me 15 times a week if he had a new paint scheme, or what he was driving.”
The ceremony was an open microphone, intended as an opportunity for the community to come together, Crescenta Valley High Principal Linda Evans said.
Students dialed emergency dispatchers from the basketball court and began CPR before paramedics arrived, officials said. Tyler had a genetic heart condition, which is a leading cause of death among young athletes, according to a 1996 study by the American Heart Assn.
“They called 911. They asked for help from the adults that were on the track,” Evans said of the students present. “They did all the right things immediately. They immediately recognized something was wrong.”
Tim Sikora called them heroes.
“The boys my oldest son hangs out with — they are the model kids of the school.”
Daniel Bashian, a Crescenta Valley High senior, was playing basketball with Tyler, and was one of a team of students who organized the ceremony.
“Before he walked off the court, he was telling his brother how much fun he was having,” he said.
At an early age, Tyler exhibited the kindness that made him a popular student, said Kristie Colegate, who taught Tyler and his brother, Devin, at Lincoln Elementary School.
“He was well liked by his peers, and quiet,” she said. “I think he’s just a happy kid, one of those kids where the glass was half full. He had a positive attitude about life.”
Counselors and psychologists were available throughout the day at Rosemont, where Tyler was going to graduate in three weeks.
“We’re keeping our doors open for students,” said Michele Doll, the school principal. “We’re trying to take care, in the most personal manner as possible, and making sure we’re here for all of the students.”
During lunch, Rosemont students signed and wrote messages on a banner, something many students found to be healing, albeit temporary.
“Thinking of him is kind of hard,” said Eduardo Vivas, one of Tyler’s classmates. “I’m hoping he’s in a better place right now.”
Tyler was more into sports and NASCAR than he was school, Tim Sikora said.
“He had a plan. He was putting together a business that he was going to customize and sell — he loved these NASCAR cars. He was buying them off EBay to customize them,” Tim Sikora said. “He was getting all this information about colors . . . and he had a sheet of 150 options he was going to offer to customize these cars.”
The family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Sikora family, care of Citibank at 2621 Foothill Blvd. in La Crescenta.
“He was such a good little guy and loved everybody,” Tim Sikora said. “I don’t think I remember him ever having a bad word about anybody. I don’t think I can remember him being mad at somebody.
“They say the good die young, and he was a good kid.”