Shortly after rescue crews discovered the body of 22-year-old BYU student Tyler Mayle on Y Mountain June 5, a group gathered and spontaneously began singing and paying tribute to their classmate who loved music, mountains and making friends.
Knowing that their son was an experienced mountain hiker, parents Lori and Gary Mayle were hoping and praying along with many friends in Utah and Colorado that Tyler had held on during the five days he was missing.
Search and rescue teams discovered Mayle’s body at 8:40 p.m. Wednesday after triangulating two-day-old pings from his cell phone and following a tip from a deer spotter who saw a man on Saturday who matched Mayle’s description near a cliff on Eagle Pass.
Mayle, a junior, completed a two-year LDS mission to Germany last year. He had developed close friendships with classmates and ward members who gathered nightly to pray on his behalf while he was missing. Within hours of the intensive mountain search to find Mayle, approximately 60–100 friends engaged in a round-the-clock group-chat, keeping each other updated online and encouraging one another.
Fellow Cougar marching band member and friend Amanda Berg explained how quickly a small Facebook group grew into a large one as everyone shared information about the search for Mayle.
“His mission friends invited his marching band friends, who then invited others close to him,” Berg saId. “The conversation on Facebook was a way to get news quickly, so I kept refreshing the page. I was hoping that everything would be all right.”
A group of Mayle’s marching band friends arrived at the base of Y Mountain within minutes of the news that the search had ended; Berg explained that for her, it all began with a spiritual prompting.
“I play french horn in the marching band with Tyler,” she said. “I had some extra time a few days before and prayed about what I should do. I was surprised when I felt prompted to create a horn arrangement of the hymn ‘God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again.’ When a group started talking about going up to the mountain on Wednesday night and waiting for news, some of us brought our horns along.”
Berg said that what happened next was perfectly fitting for Mayle. She described how Mayle’s former mission companions arrived at the trailhead Wednesday evening at the same time as the friends with horns, just after the announcement that Mayle’s body had been found. Spontaneously, the horn players began playing hymns that echoed in the foothills of the mountain and the mission friends sang along in German.
Memories of Mayle shared by friends describe a determined young man with diverse talents and accomplishments. Reflecting that he was outgoing, musically gifted and filled with a simple enthusiasm for life, friends tried to describe the “it” quality that made everyone who knew Mayle an instant friend.
“He was just one of those people that everyone loved,” said friend Lindsey Spencer. “You could talk to dozens of people who knew him, and they will all say that he was so easy to love. This has been really hard.”
Over a hundred people gathered Thursday evening at a Provo LDS chapel for a remembrance service to sing and share memories. Mayle’s father, Gary, organized the event by posting an update on Facebook and inviting anyone who wanted to remember his son to come.
“It was exactly what he would have wanted,” Berg said. “There were a lot of happy memories … tears and laughter. He wouldn’t have wanted people to stay sad for long. He was always smiling.”
A political science major, Mayle was also an aspiring communications professional and worked several positions at BYU Radio and Classical 89.1 FM. Supervisor Andy McQuinn described his intern-turned-anchor as hardworking, diligent and eager.
“I told him when I interviewed him that there would be high expectations of him,” McQuinn said. “He looked me straight in the eye with a smile and said, ‘I am planning to exceed expectations.’ And he did. His talent was getting noticed around here.”
Grief and loss were also felt in Mayle’s hometown of Windsor, Colo.
Brian Gary, co-host of Windsor’s K99 FM morning show, knew Mayle as a young Eagle Scout with an interest in broadcast radio. Gary was job-shadowed by Mayle several years ago and remembers him as a great listener and a voracious learner at a young age. Gary learned that Mayle got a job announcing news for BYU Broadcasting when Mayle traveled back to Windsor two weeks ago and stopped by K99. The morning crew decided to put the conversation on air.
“You could just hear it in his voice — he was a natural,” Gary said. “I’ve met a lot of people in this business, and you know when you meet someone with ‘that something special,’ and he had it. My co-host and I looked at each other after he left here two weeks ago and said, ‘This kid is going places. There is nothing that is going to stop him from achieving whatever it is he wants to do.'”
Family friends and observers describe being inspired by the way Mayle family members conducted themselves during the difficult search. Lori Mayle told the Universe Wednesday afternoon that she recognized that whatever happened was in God’s hands, and both parents expressed confidence in the abilities of the search and rescue teams to comb the mountain canyons and find their son. Mayle’s younger sister Hailey entered the MTC on schedule Wednesday afternoon but is now back with the family until later this month.
Mayle was known as a natural-born leader by his college friends and as a young man with a thirst for life by those who watched him grow up.
“Tyler lived his life as a joyous adventure,” said Lori Zenger, a family friend from Windsor. “He was so youthful and adventurous — he embodied that. As a kid he was a light-hearted and fun boy who was also very disciplined. He was involved in every club you can imagine in high school.”
Gary said he saw a unique quality in Mayle.
“Being uncompromisingly yourself on the air takes skill, and he was able to do that without trying,” Gary said. “(Tyler) didn’t wake up in the morning and think about himself. He woke up wondering, ‘What can I do to make others happy?’ I never dreamed when we said goodbye to him that day that the world would soon be losing what he had to offer — somebody who was going to do so much good in this world. Yet we can see the impact he had in just 22 years. He’s going to do that good … even through this.”