BMX teen killed in Joplin, Mo. tornado
16-year-old Casey Lantz Hare, a BMX rider from Joplin, Mo. was killed by Sunday's tornado that struck the Joplin area. Hare was a student at Joplin High School, an avid BMXer that spent many hours at the Autumn Ramp Park, and a student apprentice to Autumn Ramp Park director Jeremiah Anderson in his spare time.
Lantz's mother Michelle Hare told CNN that her son was ripped from a car Sunday night by winds exceeding 200 mph in Joplin, and that his body had been located after a four-day search by Hare's friends, family and Joplin Police.
John Andrus, a member of the Dirt Brothers crew and friend of Lantz, remembered him fondly. "Lantz basically lived on his bike and he always had a huge smile on his face. He put in tons of time helping me re-model Autumn Ramp Park every year. We will miss him a ton!"
Through the Autumn Ramp Park's Facebook page, Autumn Ramp Park director Jeremiah Anderson also issued a statement. "Thank you everyone for all the love, support and prayers for our friend Lantz Pantz. If you haven't already seen, our brother and friend has passed away. We want to focus on our love for Lantz and celebrate his life. We love and miss Lantz more than anything else."
Meanwhile, members of the professional BMX community offered their condolences to Lantz's family. Aaron Ross said "R.I.P Lantz Hare" via Twitter, and called him "BMX family." Terry Adams, who has competed in Joplin at the Autumn Ramp Park for the past several years, added, "My thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in Peace man," via Twitter.
The tornado that struck Joplin on Sunday night was the deadliest tornado in the United States in 64 years. As of Thursday, 232 people are still reported missing, and the official death toll is at 126. More than 900 were injured, according to government officials in Joplin. It was the eighth deadliest tornado in U.S. history.
Since 2006, Autumn Ramp Park at The Bridge has attracted pro BMXers from the U.S. and abroad for the annual JoMoPro contest, and has featured $25,000 cash purses, and Harley Davidson motorcycles as Best Trick awards. For 2011, the contest switched focus to amateur riders, and was renamed "JoMoShowdown."
Hare had competed at the JoMoPro Intermediate level in 2010, and had moved up to the Expert class earlier this year.
Our thoughts are with Lantz's family, friends and the residents of Joplin during this difficult time.
Follow Brian Tunney on Twitter: @briantunney