Highland High School opened its doors Saturday night for the community after learning 18-year-old Ryder Steck passed away.
The school also held a gathering on Friday night as residents gathered to pray for Steck.
Steck was in critical condition following a car accident in Morrow County.
The signs of support appeared up and down Marengo's Main Street. In the worst of times, this small town was showing its best. "This community is very small, but when something like this happens, we see how big we become and rally around someone in a time of need," said event organizer Michelle Croy.
Ryder Steck was at Grant Medical Center on a ventilator and in an induced coma. Ryder was reportedly on his way to work last Sunday morning when the accident occurred along State Route 314. His vehicle flipped, and Ryder was ejected, sustaining life-threatening injuries.
He was supposed to be starting his senior year at Highland High School, where he runs cross country and track. The team's first practice was set for Friday.
Instead, the community gathered on the track to hold hands, and say a prayer on his behalf.
"He'd love it, he'd love that," said Ron Steck, Ryder's father. His parents rarely leave his bedside, where Ryder suffers from multiple injuries, including a head injury and broken back. They credit Morrow County EMS crews and first responders with saving their son's life. "When you talk to him, he'll move his hand, or squeeze your hand, or blink an eye or open his eyes or something," Steck said.
His parents said he was making progress but had suffered an infection.
The community prayer came at time when it was needed most. "They've told me that it would be two steps forward and one step back," said his mother, Kila. "And that's kind of where we're at today."
Investigators have ruled out alcohol and drugs as factors in the crash. His parents said a search of his phone showed he wasn't texting, and he was wearing a seatbelt.
The cause of the accident remains under investigation.