Utah man died saving grandson, but corneas live on

WELLSVILLE, Utah (AP) — The late Steve Speth of Wellsville once had a conversation with his wife about his decision to become an organ donor.

At the time, she asked him why he’d want to do that. He said: “Because I can.”

Two weeks ago, Steve’s wife, Midge, received a letter in the mail from the Utah Lions Eye Bank at the Moran Eye Center, part of University Healthcare in Salt Lake City.

Midge said the tears began flowing from her own eyes when she read the letter and discovered that because Steve had agreed to be an organ donor, eyesight has been restored for two people who received his corneas.

“It’s like he still gets to see what is going on in the world,” Speth’s stepdaughter, Marissa Cook, told the Herald Journal.

Steve Speth, 54, died in a tragic accident on Easter Sunday this year after his 2-year-old grandson accidentally knocked a vehicle out of gear. The vehicle, on a downhill slope, began to roll — with the toddler inside.

Speth was knocked to the ground and run over as he chased after the sport utility vehicle that later crashed into another vehicle. He died that day.

“Underneath that great big, rough and rugged, truck driver, I’m-a-guy exterior was the biggest teddy bear you’ve ever met,” Midge said.

Midge said her husband was an old-school guy with a sense of humor that was “out of this world.” She said he would go out of his way to help others.

He loved a lot of things — he loved horses and rodeo, he loved his trucking career — but above all, he loved his family.

“To him, a new baby was a reason to celebrate,” Cook said. “He loved babies, and he loved kids.”

On the day he died, Midge said emergency personnel made every possible effort to save Speth’s life, but his injuries were too severe.

In the months since his death, Midge has taken on a project of her own to express her gratitude to both law enforcement and emergency services personnel in the valley.

In honor of Speth’s love for children, Midge has begun collecting blankets for children and donating them to various agencies. She said the idea stems from a sheriff’s deputy who gave her grandson a teddy bear in the aftermath of the crash on Easter.

Blankets are another comfort item for children and can be given at a time of crisis.

“I hope to flood this valley with blankets — from one end of the valley to the other,” Midge said. “It just makes me happy.”

In addition, she has begun collecting newborn holiday clothing that is donated to the hospital to the first boy and the first girl born on that holiday — all in memory of “Papa Steve.”

“It’s my way of saying thank you for trying so hard (to save him),” Midge said.

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Information from: The Herald Journal, http://www.hjnews.com

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