TRAVERSE CITY — Tyler S. Antaya was known for always smiling, Mancelona Middle School Principal Tina Frollo said.
Tyler, 11, died Sunday while riding dirt bikes with his father, Jamie Seabolt of Kalkaska, and a stepbrother. The trio was biking on state land in Kalkaska when Tyler lost control of his bike, veered off the road and crashed into trees, said Kalkaska County Sheriff David Israel.
Tyler wore a helmet, but still suffered head injuries, Israel said.
The sixth-grader was always smiling and well-liked by other kids, Frollo said.
“He was a nice kid, very kind, always worked hard and had a drive to be successful,” said Frollo. “Kids liked him and he had a good sense of humor.”
Classmates remembered Tyler as a fun, silly friend.
“He’s a great friend,” said David Buckler, a classmate who’s been friends with Tyler since kindergarten. “He just joked around a lot and was really funny. He’s one of the best people in the world.”
Another friend, Jimmy Dunne, enjoyed playing the Wii with Tyler, wrestling with him, and just goofing around.
“Tyler was just a good kid and he never judged other kids,” said Dunne’s mom, Tammy Dunne. “He always stood up for Jimmy and was always friends with Jimmy and other kids. He never badmouthed anybody.”
Teachers were impressed by Tyler, who, when asked to write down three goals, wrote: ‘work hard, work hard, work hard.’
“He was a hard worker and took his education seriously,” said Tyler’s fifth- and sixth- grade teachers in a joint statement. “He balanced his academics with having fun with friends and classmates. Other students, teachers and staff liked him; he was a genuinely good person who is kind, respectful and fun-loving.”
Tyler played baseball for Mancelona teams and was an avid Detroit Tigers fan, said his baseball coach, Mike Alfred.
“He was all around just a happy kid,” said Alfred. “He just wanted to be out there more than anything. You could tell he really loved baseball.”
Sheriff’s officials continue to investigate. The bike was legal and ORV-stickered, Israel said. Israel did not know whether Tyler had the proper ORV certification required for all drivers under 16.
Tyler is survived by several younger siblings, his stepbrother, and a younger half-sister. Viewings will be held at the Wolfe-O’Neill Funeral Home in Kalkaska from 5 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 6 for the family and 1 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 7 for friends, teachers and anyone else.
His funeral service will be held Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Kalkaska Church of Christ.