ST. GEORGE — The Utah Tech University family gathered on campus Tuesday evening to remember one of their own and to begin the difficult process of going on without him.
Friends and family of freshman Peyton Hall congregated at the Centennial Commons in front of the Jeffrey R. Holland building to hold a candlelight vigil.
As previously reported in St. George News, 18-year old Hall died tragically early Sunday morning after falling from a fifth-floor balcony at Campus View Suites II.
“Peyton would not have wanted these kids to hurt,” Candice Howe, Peyton’s mother, told St. George News after the vigil. “He wanted them to be happy. He will be missed.”
Hundreds of students flowed onto campus to light prayer candles and to write stories and memories on cards for Peyton’s family.
Groups of students clustered and hugged, cried and laughed when they recalled stories about the fun-loving freshman from South Jordan.
“And the challenge is, what are you going to do with those memories?” Del Beatty, vice president of student affairs, told Peyton’s friends. “What are you going to do with those experiences? How are you going to make yourself better to honor Peyton for the life that he lived?”
Beatty then went on to recount a story about how he met with Peyton’s father, Bryan Hall, earlier in the day and asked him what it was that brought Peyton to Utah Tech.
“After just a few minutes on campus, Peyton said, ‘This is my place.’ And I see a bunch of you nodding your heads. You’ve had that same feeling. This is your place,” Beatty said. “And that’s the most important part, right? That we remember what we wanted.”
Ali Threet, dean of students at Utah Tech, told the crowd at the vigil that when times of tragedy occur, there are two things that happen.
“One, either people move away from each other and they withdraw. Or two, they move closer toward each other, and they become a community and a family,” Threet said. “Lean on each other for support and strength, and kindness.
“Remember the good times with Peyton. Remember the good times with each other,” she added. “Because as Trailblazers, we’re a family. And we come together.”
Aaron Cass is a junior at Utah Tech majoring in biomedical studies. He is also a mental health advocate with the Student Government.
“The point of this is to give a full opportunity for students who may not have had an opportunity to grieve properly to come into a congregation to recognize a beautiful student who had a tragic accident,” Cass told St. George News.
“And we will miss him dearly. He was a Trailblazer and he deserves to be honored as any other student should,” he added.
Many students are hurting, Cass said. Not just friends of Peyton’s but also many students who unfortunately witnessed his tragic fall to his death when it happened Sunday morning. There are resources for those students.
“Student Government is mainly a liaison between higher ed and the students,” Cass said. “We will always offer our friendship and time.”
In times when the need is greater, like during this tragedy, Cass said the Booth Wellness Center is a great resource for students. It is a comprehensive, integrated care clinic offering both medical and mental health services to students. The center is located at 1037 East 100 S, right next to campus.
Cass said there is also a partnership with Southwest Behavioral Health Center making its mobile crisis clinic available to students.
“So if any of them are feeling stressed or need any kind of place to turn to for safety or things like that, those are two great, valuable resources to turn to,” Cass said. “As well as, don’t be afraid to ask your roommates.
“Don’t be afraid to ask us. Come to our room in the Gardner Building (Student Center) on the second floor,” he added. “We’re always there. We’re always available. We’re always willing to help. Please come seek us out if you need anything.”
A long silence hung over the vigil after its conclusion. Then the unexpected rhythms of the rapper Pitbull played over the speakers.
“This is one of Peyton’s favorite songs, he sent it to his little brother just days before the accident,” Cass told the crowd.
The lyrics of the song “Feel the Moment” drifted over the students as they mourned and remembered a life that was too brief but was so remarkable.
“One day while my light is glowin’
I’ll be in my castle golden
But until the gates are open
I just wanna feel this moment.”
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