Express-News: Donors rally to support medical student’s widow, children

The story was posted Jan. 16 in the San Antonio Express-News.

Friends and strangers from around the world are showing support for the widow and children of a San Antonio medical school student killed by a wrong-way driver on a California interstate last week.

By Peggy O’Hare

Friends and strangers from around the world are showing support for the widow and children of a San Antonio medical school student killed by a wrong-way driver on a California interstate last week.

Ryan John Folsom, 29, a fourth-year student at UT Health San Antonio’s Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine, was killed instantly in a head-on crash on Interstate 5 in Anderson, California, on Jan. 7.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the 28-year-old California woman who crashed into Folsom may have been attempting suicide when she drove the wrong way, a California Highway Patrol report shows. She survived the crash with a broken leg and has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but an investigation is continuing.

A friend started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Folsom’s wife, Lauren, who is nearly nine months pregnant with their third child, due Jan. 29, and the couple’s two sons, 2 and 3 years old. As of Monday, more than 3,700 people had donated a total of $293,000 to that campaign — almost three times the original fundraising goal. Contributions are still being accepted.

The campaign has drawn contributions from places as far flung as Brazil, Portugal, France, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Lithuania, South Korea and Japan, according to a map posted by Ian Thomas Cropper, the campaign’s organizer.

The financial needs of Folsom’s wife and children are immense, said friend Matt Kress, another fourth-year student at UT Health San Antonio’s medical school.

“At this point, Lauren leaves San Antonio with absolutely nothing to support her children with,” Kress said Monday. “Everything that they had had been invested into Ryan’s career.”

Ryan Folsom had been working toward becoming an orthopedic surgeon and was due to graduate from medical school in May. He had earned Alpha Omega Alpha honors and was ranked in the top 10 percent of his class, according to his obituary.

He earned a master’s degree in neuroscience from Brigham Young University and was a running back for the BYU Cougars football team.

Folsom and his family had lived in San Antonio since 2014 in a home his mother owns. They attended the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Huebner Road in Leon Valley.

Since August, Folsom’s wife and children have been staying in Oregon with family so they wouldn’t be alone while he completed four rotations at various hospitals in different states.

He had been planning to return to San Antonio with his family in March for “Match Day,” when he expected to find out where he would perform his residency, said his mother, Mindy Folsom of Medford, Oregon.

Folsom was known for his easy smile and always being first to volunteer help to others, such as families at church needing a hand moving into or away from the area. He adored his family, showing Kress a video of his young sons reacting with glee to his return home for the holidays.

“I hope and pray that they have even a flickering memory of who their father was and the wonderful man that he was,” Kress said. “They’re going to be raised as children without a father — when they had perhaps one of the best fathers I’ve ever known.”

Folsom was driving from his hometown of Medford to Sacramento for an interview at a hospital when he was killed, friends said. His wife called and texted him later that day but got no response. She also learned that he never arrived where he was supposed to stay that evening, Cropper said.

Authorities notified Folsom’s wife early the next morning that he had died in a crash.

A funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in Central Point, Oregon.

His mother expressed amazement at the outpouring of GoFundMe donations.

“We can’t wrap our heads around it,” Mindy Folsom said. “It really is remarkable. We’re deeply touched by people’s kindness. … It gives us hope that goodness will always be stronger than darkness.”

Read the full story at the Express-News.

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