UTA employee found dead in Wyoming remembered as family man eager to help others

Posted at 9:20 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 23:20:12-04

AMERICAN FORK, Utah -- Loved ones and coworkers of a Utah man found dead in Wyoming shared their memories of someone who was dedicated to his family and always the first to offer a helping hand.

Kay Ricks' death is being investigated as a homicide after the Utah Transit Authority employee vanished last week and was found dead days later in Wyoming.

Authorities are investigating the possibility his death is connected to two suspects in an assault and kidnapping who fled Utah and hid in Wyoming around the time Ricks vanished.

Family spokesman Richard Massey said family was always in Ricks' thoughts.

"He turned around, and his wife said: 'What are you doing?' and he said, 'I forgot to give you a kiss goodbye.' That was the last time she saw him," Massey said.

Massey has known Ricks for about four years, and he said during the search many were praying for a miracle.

"We hoped that Kay would come home and hug his grandkids and kiss his wife as he did the day he walked out the door," he said.

Family and friends were hoping to receive a phone call saying Ricks had been found and was coming home, but instead they received the tragic news the father and grandfather was dead.

"I hope that I never again in my life have to make a telephone call like that," Massey said.

Still, in this trying time, Massey said the family feels a sense of love.

"The family has felt his love and support from heaven," Massey said.

UTA employees were also mourning Wednesday, and several of Ricks' coworkers shared their memories of a man who was quick to offer assistance.

"He was always one of the first to answer the call on the radio, and he was always the first to lend a hand to his fellow employees," said Rob Benson, UTA Deputy General Manager of Rail Systems Infrastructure.

Supporters have tied yellow ribbons in Ricks' honor around his family's American Fork neighborhood and at UTA platforms in the Salt Lake Valley, where Ricks' has worked since 2010 as a line signal technician. Benson has worked alongside him since that time, and he described Ricks as hardworking, dependable and kind.

"He was always willing to help, he's a stand-up employee, and he will be missed," Benson said.

Massey said that willingness to offer help extended to Ricks' neighborhood.

"He has been on most of these roofs in this community, especially the older homes," he said. "He has probably put two or three roofs on these two or three houses alone."

Ricks' family has requested their privacy, but they asked Massey to extend their gratitude for the love and support the community has offered.

"It's heart-wrenching," Massey said. "Today they are hanging in there and are trying to come to grips with the loss of Kay."

The family has set up a fund at Wells Fargo, the Kay Porter Ricks Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will help his six grandchildren with their higher education.