Hope College Student Killed “Lived Life To The Fullest”

Posted at 5:29 PM, May 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-26 10:12:07-04

HOLLAND, Mich- A student from Hope College was killed after being hit by a private tour bus early Saturday morning in Holland. Riley Gortsema, a sophomore from Grandville was struck when she was walking in the roadway.

The accident happened at 1:46 a.m. near the U.S. 31 and Chicago Drive exit in Holland Township. The 18-year-old woman had been taking a Summer term class while living on campus.

The driver, 25-year-old Travis John Terrell from Tennessee, was driving southbound when he hit  Gortsema. The band, “Audio Adrenaline” posted a prayer request on their website saying, “Our thoughts and prayers to the young lady and her family who was involved in an un-fortunate incident after our concert last (Friday) night. Please lit our driver up in your prayers as well.

The driver had no injuries. According to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, there is no word on where the bus was heading.

Hope College will be providing counseling for any students who need it at this time. The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department is still investigating this accident and as to why Gorstema was on the highway.

It’s still a shock to so many in the community, Gortsema just graduated from Calvin Christian High School last year. Those who knew her say she lived life to the fullest and she still had so much life ahead of her.

Tim Ter Haar is the varsity soccer coach at Calvin Christian High, Gortsema played for him all 4 years as a varsity starter. When she wasn’t taking home state titles on the soccer team,  she played basketball and volleyball, but she was so much more than a star athlete.

“As a coach you`re the one that you expect to be teaching the lessons and being the mentor but I can honestly say with great confidence that I learned a lot more from Riley than she learned from me. That`s one thing when I think of Riley, I just think of the joy that she had for life. If there is one word that I would use to describe her it would be an inspiration because she had some struggles in her life, it wasn`t an easy life” said Ter Haar.

Despite dealing with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, she always gave her all. “It  took a tremendous toll on her body but the fact that she came in every day ready to do battle if you will, was just a tremendous inspiration to all of those people that she touched.”

She also lost her older brother to suicide back in 2008, just two years ago she filmed a video with Devos Childrens Hospital to educate people on the topic.

“Riley had the unique ability to transform maybe personal struggle and loss into something that could serve the greater good.” She lived a life of service through her faith, with a personality and smile that could light up any room.

“To let love rule” I think that was a law that Riley lived by and something that she shared with everybody that she came in contact with.” At just 18 years old, those who knew Riley say she leaves behind a great legacy.

“We cant wrap our heads around it we don`t why but we do have that strong faith and Riley lived out that faith that this was Gods will and we can turn this for Gods greater good as well and use her inspiration for each of us to better as well.”