From planning a wedding to preparing a funeral
RIPON, Wis. — It was a wet, cold December day when Ryan Schultz and Alyssa Van Gorder journeyed to Devil’s Lake.
“He had scheduled pictures for us to go and do because I kept saying I want to get pictures taken, I want to get pictures taken,” Van Gorder said.
Later, on that cold day, they had engagement photos to warm their hearts.
“We just felt like we were the only two people in the world right then and there,” Van Gorder said.
Ryan’s mom knew right away that Alyssa was her son’s soulmate.
“She was the love of his life,” Melissa Schultz said. “There was a beam in his eye and smile, every time he talked about her there was a bump in his step.”
Day’s after the trip to Devil’s Lake, the couple was planning a wedding.
“Made me feel really happy, made him really happy,” Van Gorder said.
Everything changed last month when Ryan was hit and killed by a wrong-way driver. The sheriff’s office believes alcohol was a factor. Court records show the driver has four previous OWI’s.
“I never got to say goodbye,” Van Gorder said. “My whole life has just been changed.”
Instead of planning a wedding, Van Gorder was making arrangements for a funeral.
“I still feel numb,” she said. “I still feel like it’s a nightmare that I’ll wake up from, but I don’t.”
“He had his whole life going for him,” Schultz said.
Schultz and Van Gorder still have all of the memories, pictures, and videos. They have belongings.
“I sleep every night with his sweatshirt,” Van Gorder said. “I keep a ring that I had given to him a while ago, a necklace. I have his dog tags. I haven’t taken those off since I got them back.”
They also have a new cause to fight for. Schultz says the OWI laws in Wisconsin need to change.
“I was shocked,” she said. “When it doesn’t happen to you, you’re like ‘oh this is Wisconsin, it’s how we are.’ When it happens to you it’s like, ‘we need to look at this, it’s not right.'”
What Schultz and Van Gorder don’t have is what they miss the most.
“His smile, and his arms,” Van Gorder said. “His kisses, his jokes. He was the most amazing person you could ever meet in your entire life.”