Dylan Garnett had only been back for a week from a semester abroad in Spain when he was killed in a wreck on Kansas 10 highway.
He was driving to Lawrence to sign a lease for the apartment he would live in his junior year of college.
About 1:35 p.m. Tuesday Garnett’s car hit the back of a semi-truck that had slowed down because of traffic near a construction zone at K-10 and Interstate 435 in Lenexa, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol report.
Just ahead of that area, traffic is reduced to one lane for milling and overlay work between Renner Boulevard and Ridgeview Road. Garnett wasn’t able to stop in time, the patrol said.
The 19-year-old University of Kansas sophomore from Shawnee was known for his infectious smile and strong Catholic faith, according to his mother, Renee Garnett, and Mitchell Zimmerman, the chaplain and director at the Saint Lawrence Catholic Center by the University of Kansas campus.
He was planning to spend his summer working at Camp Tekakwitha, a children’s summer camp run by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
Like many students who study abroad, Dylan Garnett had left for Salamanca, Spain, hoping to become bilingual, complete his Spanish minor and take the opportunity to travel the world.
“He always wanted to see the world and he loved to travel,” Renee Garnett said. “From the time he was 6 years old he would lead us through the airport.”
While he was in Spain, however, he held on to a piece of his daily life in Lawrence and attended Mass each day, his mother said.
Every day when he went to Mass, there was a woman outside the church begging. Although Dylan Garnett did not have enough money to give any to the woman, he told his mother that each day he gave her the orange from his breakfast.
“He was the kind of person who every person he met was important to him,” Renee Garnett said.
When he was in Lawrence Dylan Garnett showed up at the Saint Lawrence Center every day, Zimmerman said. He went to daily Mass, came to every social function and was preparing to give a talk at the church’s student retreat in October.
“He knew everybody and everybody knew him,” Zimmerman said. “He would come and be part of the community and just share life and faith and love.”
Students gathered at the Saint Lawrence Center Tuesday after learning the news of Dylan Garnett’s death.
Students came for the 5:15 p.m. Mass and spent the afternoon and evening at the church “crying and hugging and sharing stories and trying not to feel so helpless,” Zimmerman said.
The center left notecards in the chapel, which is open all night, for students to write condolences and prayers to the Garnett family.
“We’re super grateful for his life and we’ll miss him a lot,” Zimmerman said.
In one of her last conversations with Dylan Garnett, his mother said, he asked her to order an encyclical written by Pope Francis titled The Joy of the Gospel. He planned to spend the summer reading and meditating on it as he prepared to speak at the retreat in October.
“He wanted to model his life after Saint Joseph,” Renee Garnett said. “As a follower of Jesus.”