Local News

Runner remembered as 'full of life'

Posted April 14, 2014 4:47 p.m. EDT
Updated April 14, 2014 10:42 p.m. EDT

— Raleigh resident Derrick Myers  was one of the two runners who died Sunday in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, his parents confirmed Monday.

Myers was the father of two children and an avid athlete who played soccer, biked, swam and snowboarded, they said. He celebrated his 35th birthday the day before participating in the half-marathon.

"Derrick was full of life," said his mother, Barbara Myers. "Lived life to the fullest every day. He never met a stranger – he knew people around the world. Our phone and doorbell have been ringing since his passing."

Race organizers said Derrick Myers collapsed at the finish line. He received immediate medical attention and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Barbara Myers and her husband, Michael Myers, said they are waiting to find out the exact cause of death.

"He was a health freak," Michael Myers said. "He was always on me and his mom for not eating right."

His parents said Myers graduated from Oklahoma State University and worked in information technology for Etix.

Funeral services will be held for Myers in Rocky Mount on Thursday.

The deaths of Myers and another runner – an unidentified 31-year-old man who collapsed near 11-mile marker of half-marathon – weighs heavily on the minds of many who participated in Raleigh's first Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.

Linda Hatala encountered the unidentified runner and emergency medical workers near the 11-mile mark, just as she crested a hill.

“When we got to the top, I saw someone down with a sheet up and they were doing CPR,” she said Monday. “I've run these races many times before, and I've never actually experienced something like that before. I was fearful for that person.”

What Hatala didn't see were the five runners, strangers, who stopped to give him CPR while they waited for EMS to arrive.

Hatala saw Myers down and receiving medical attention just before the finish line.

“I just couldn't believe it,” she said.

Cardiologists say that, while is unusual for two men in their 30s to collapse during a race, people who experience such an incident often have underlying, undiagnosed heart conditions.

“I think it would be a good idea to see a physician before you consider participation in strenuous endurance events,” said Dr. Pavlo Netrebko, a cardiologist with WakeMed Physician Practices. “The majority of those congenital conditions could be picked up at a routine screening at fairly low cost.”

Many runners said seeing the two men on the ground is something they will never forget.

“I was really upset yesterday,” Hatala said. “It was very bittersweet yesterday.”