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'Live life like a Champ': Family remembers Utah teen who died in dirt bike accident

Posted at 5:28 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-26 20:00:06-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A local family is grieving the loss of 15-year-old Champson Ray Salley, affectionately known as Champ.

On April 3, Champ sustained a traumatic brain injury and compressed spine fracture in a dirt bike accident. The family says he was making progress at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City before suffering a stroke during his recovery.

After three weeks in the hospital, the family made the difficult decision to take him off life support.

"He is everything that a mother or father would want a child," said Ray Salley, Champ's grandfather.

Ray said his grandson was truly a special young man. He says Champ was respectful, kind, loving and outgoing.

"His dad would say Champ never had a bad day. He never did," Ray said.

FOX 13 News also spoke with Champ's parents, who described him as magnanimous, selfless, and a sweet soul.

Those qualities were on full display in a video the family shared of Champ, when he was nine years old and had just received a dirt bike as a gift.

"I don't feel like I deserve to have it," Champ said in the video.

Ray said riding dirt bikes was something his grandson was truly passionate about.

"He was riding his bike the day that he had his injury. He was actually on a mountain trail, a very flat mountain trail," he said.

He added that Champ was fully protected, wearing the necessary armor and a helmet, like he always did when he was riding.

"We didn't receive the ultimate miracle that we that we wanted, but we know that Champ received the ultimate miracle that his father had for him that his life was not lived in vain," Ray said.

Champ suffered no broken bones in the accident, leaving his organs fully intact. That has allowed the St. George teen to give the gift of life to others.

Ray said his grandson had gotten his learner's permit shortly before the accident. In doing so, Champ checked the box to be an organ donor.

"There is a recipient for his lungs that has been on the donor list for quite a number of months now that had some kind of a rare condition, and Champ was a perfect match for this person," Ray said.

It's something that gives just a little comfort to a heartbroken family.

"He was a healthy, active, athletic boy with strong organs that will make a difference in somebody's life," Ray said.

Ray is looking at starting a foundation that would help those affected by traumatic brain injuries. He's looking to call it "Live Like a Champ" — something he hopes will help carry on his Champ's legacy.

Two GoFundMe pages, both of which will go toward Champ's family, have been set up: