Memphis man that died after Disney ride described as a 'big Disney kid'
ORLANDO, FL (WMC) - A Memphis man died during a trip to Disney World. The park confirmed the death of Ralph Lyles weeks after the incident.
Now, his family said all they want is to bring him home.
The family said it took almost a month for them to raise the necessary funds to bring Lyles' remains back to Memphis.
They said he spent a lot of time at Disney World, because he loved being there. They said he even joked about dying at Disney World.
"He was the heart and soul of our family," Teresa Lyles, Ralph's daughter-in-law, said.
His family said Lyles was a father and grandfather who was devoted to his family. He saved his money each year in order to be able to take his grandchildren somewhere magical.
She said this year was her son's turn to go with his grandfather to Walt Disney World.
"We have a big family, but this year it was my son's turn. He is 9," Teresa Lyles said.
In recent years, Lyles had been to the amusement park a total of six times.
"He was an awesome person," Teresa said. "He was more than a grandfather."
However, this time the trip to the magical land ended abruptly when tragedy struck. It happened after Lyles and his grandfather finished riding Star Tours: The Adventures Continue.
After the pair got off the ride, Lyles told his grandson he wasn't feeling good and needed a cup of ice.
Moments later, he reportedly collapsed and died from a heart attack.
A family member had to fly to Florida in order to be with the child.
"This ripped a huge hole in the family, because he was the one who kept us all together," Teresa said.
Family said Lyles was his happiest when he was at Disney.
"All he wanted to do was make people smile. That's all," Teresa said.
"He was a big kid. A big Disney kid," Shaianne Lyles, Lyles' granddaughter, said. "That's who my paw paw was."
The family struggled to bring Lyles' body back to Memphis.
"I just feel like they could have done more for their biggest fan than what they did," Shaianne said.
She said she wishes the Disney Corporation would have stepped in to ship his remains back to Memphis.
But, despite the tragedy, Shaianne said she has been able to come to peace with his death because of where he died.
"Disney is the one place where dreams come true," she said. "How can I feel bad when he died in the happiest place in his mind, at the happiest place on earth."
The family said Lyles was taking medication for a heart problem.
A Disney World representative confirmed Star Tours is a ride that has signs warning visitors not to ride if they have a pre-existing heart condition.
You can donate to the family's GoFundMe account by clicking here.
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