SIDNEY — Blue and yellow balloons floated up to Heaven Sunday as family and friends wished a happy 18th heavenly birthday to Ty Austin Martin.
The celebration of Ty’s life was held at Pearl Cemetery. Messages were written on the balloons before they were launched as happy birthday was sung to Ty. After the launch, family and friends gathered at the Moose to remember and reminisce about Ty’s life.
Ty Martin, son of Tim and Alison Martin, of Sidney, passed away on July 3, 2016, in Tijuana, Mexico. He was 17 at the time of his death.
“We had decided after Ty passed away that we wanted to commemorate his 18th birthday,” said Alison. “We decided to have the balloon launch at the cemetery. We invited his 4-H advisers, his teachers at Sidney Alternative School, church members, friends and family.
“I was absolutely amazed at the number of people who came Sunday,” she said. The family estimates 70 to 75 people attended the celebration for Ty’s birthday.
Cupcakes — Ty’s favorite — were served at the Moose. Family and friends were invited to share stories about Ty.
“Some people brought presents,” said Alison. “One person made us a book with photos and captions about the mission trips to Tijuana.”
A wall hanging containing Ty’s favorite clothing was made by his grandmother, Patricia McElroy, Alison’s mom.
“There was a T-shirt from JOY Church were he was the head of media,” said Alison. “His work shirt from Clancy’s was there. There were also T-shirts he designed for the United Methodist Church softball team and Relay for Life team.
“His cargo shorts were there. He wore them everyday no matter what the weather,” she said. “And a T-shirt that had a cheeseburger on the front. He wore that all the time.”
Alison describes her son as a “very loving and giving person.”
“He liked to be the center of attention,” she said. “He loved the trips to Mexico. He was the president of his 4-H Club, the Starting Farmers.”
Ty was also a member of youth groups at church.
“He gave us some problems, but what teenager doesn’t?” said Alison. “He loved to play the drums and he was a member of the youth band at church.”
When he passed away, one of the floral arrangements at the service was a snare drum which flowers and two drumsticks coming out of the top of it.
Ty was on a mission to an orphanage in Mexico with his church, Sidney First United Methodist Church, when he died.
“He left the Wednesday before he passed away,” said Alison. “I had dropped him off at the youth director’s home. He called us every day from Mexico.”
On July 3, Ty called home to wish his mom a happy birthday. Later in the day, they received a call that Ty had fallen and hit his head.
“We thought he had just been clumsy and might have a concussion,” said Alison.
A swimming party was being planned for the day for children attending Vacation Bible School, she recalls.
“I was texting Eileen Hix about whether the party was still on,” she said. “For a while, I didn’t get a response from her. Then she texted me, ‘praying.’”
The church’s pastor, the Rev. David Chivington, and his wife, broke the news to the Martins that their son had passed away.
“Our pastor got on the phone and made airline reservations for us,” said Alison. “Another member of the church, who works at the health department, got us our birth certificates so we could enter back into the country (United States).
“We didn’t have to think about anything we had to do, which was good,” she said.
Alison said Ty and the other members of the mission group had gone to church that morning. Ty had torn his shorts so he left the group to go to the dorm area to change.
“When he came down (the steps) he fell and hit his head,” said Alison.
The bump, she said, instead of coming out went inside his head and that’s what caused his death.
When EMS arrived on the scene, she said, the main goal was to get Ty back to the United States for treatment. As CPR was being performed, Ty passed away.
“Because he didn’t survive, his body was kept in Mexico,” said Alison.
His body was taken to the morgue and it was not preserved, she said. “We were given the option of have a closed casket or cremation.”
“Tim and I had talked about what Ty would wear and who his pallbearers would be,” she said. “We kept thinking we would go to California, then to Mexico and then back to Ohio. When we landed and went to Mexico, we were told a hotel room had been reserved for us for two days.”
The couple had to go to the morgue to identify their son. They then met with the district attorney to talk about about what happened.
Ty’s body came home the following Thursday, July 14, after the funeral service, July 12, had been held in Sidney. When Ty’s body arrived back in Sidney, the family was told the casket couldn’t be opened.
Alison said it was hard to have the funeral service knowing that Ty’s body was not there. But with the support of family and friends, the couple found peace with what had happened to their son.
“Ty had a servant’s heart,” said Alison. “At the Moose Sunday, his teacher, Mr. (Clayton) Westerbeck said ‘what gets me most is he finally figured it (life) out.’”