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Cedar Springs man dies in crash

Tyler Conaty, 23, of Cedar Springs, died on a one-car crash Wednesday evening.

Tyler Conaty, 23, of Cedar Springs, died in a one-car crash Wednesday evening. Photo from his Facebook page.

by  Judy ReedN-Fatal-Conaty-and-son

A 23-year-old Cedar Springs man died Wednesday evening, April 26, when his vehicle ran off the road and hit a tree in Algoma Township.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, Tyler Jeffrey Conaty, 23, of the City of Cedar Springs, was traveling northbound in a 2003 Jeep Cherokee on Algoma Ave. near Rector, when the crash occurred about 9 p.m. Witnesses told police that the vehicle drifted across the centerline and then off the roadway and hit a large tree northwest of the intersection. He was the only person in the vehicle.

Algoma Fire and Rescue assisted at the scene.

According to his wife, Shannon, Tyler was on his way home early from work when the crash occurred.

Tyler, the son of Jeff and Kim Conaty, was a 2012 graduate of Cedar Springs High School. He and   Shannon (Helsel) lost a baby girl early in their relationship, but were later blessed with their son Colton, who will be four in June.

Tyler was featured in a past Post article as one of our Hometown Heroes after he had graduated from basic training in the Army and went on to Advanced Individual Training to become a diesel mechanic.

According to Shannon, joining the military in September 2015 was a dream come true for Tyler. “My husband absolutely LOVED the military and felt it was his calling, his way to help our country and to better the lives of the American people!” she explained in a public Facebook post. She’s asked people to share a photo of Tyler and their son, Colton, then 2, who saluted his father while he stood at attention at his basic training graduation. “The bugle was about to play within about 5 minutes of me taking this picture of my husband looking at the flag waiting to salute! He has always been good at being on time for things and made sure he didn’t finish our tour until he heard that bugle sing. My husband had no idea our son Colton Lane was saluting him while we were waiting!! This picture just tears at my heart strings! My son always practiced saluting with me at home so when he got to see Daddy graduate he could salute him. It was the cutest thing because he’d salute and then say “yes sir” or “yes ma’am.’”
But life in the military was not to be. Tyler broke his knee in January 2016, just a few weeks before he was to graduate AIT. “With that happening he wasn’t able to train because he had a full leg cast from his hip to his ankle therefore he couldn’t wear his combat boots when at school learning to be a diesel mechanic,” explained Shannon. “His teachers wouldn’t let him go to class and he couldn’t train. Sadly he ended up being discharged. He was beyond happy to be coming home to his family but was so upset he was gone from his military family whom he loved dearly.”

Shannon said that in January of this year he began working at Star Trucking, where they were helping him to become certified as a diesel mechanic. That’s where he was coming home from when the crash occurred.

Tyler’s death has left Kim heartbroken. “I’m devastated, heartbroken, and unsure of what the future holds for Colton and I but I know Ty’s looking down on us with our little girl protecting us the best they can! I’m just so proud of all the things he’s accomplished in his life, how he was such a hard worker, an amazing friend to every person he came across whether he knew you or not. He was the biggest social butterfly and everyone just fell in love with his personality, he most certainly was the life of the party!”

Family and friends said goodbye to Tyler during a funeral at Pederson Funeral Home Monday. The family has asked for memorial contributions in lieu of flowers.

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