The final leg of the 2004 Special Olympics Torch Run begins today with a special ceremony in downtown Des Moines. Ames police officer Bob Selby says “it changed everything” when a torch bearer was killed on Monday as the relay event began. Selby has been with the peace officers organization for 15 years and after Monday’s tragedy he and others did a little research — they believe this is the first time a runner’s been killed while participating in the torch run. In Torch Run events in other states, volunteers have been killed in accidents, and one officer died of a heart attack while running, but this is the first a time a runner was struck and killed by a motorist. On Monday, minutes after the race began in Fort Madison, an 84-year-old Illinois man who came upon the group and their escort patrol car swerved on the road and hit the runners, injuring one and killing 36-year-old Scott Edward Bryant of Donnelson. Selby says it “absolutely changed everything.” He says they were “obviously shocked and stunned” and began questioned what they’re doing, and why. After reviewing Bryant’s involvement with the torch run over many years, Selby says they realizing he was doing something he loved, so his fellow peace officers have agreed to dedicate the run to his memory. The Torch Run is conducted in every state by peace officers, including police, troopers and others. Bryant was a corrections officer at the Fort Madison state prison. Selby says their work has many perils, and when something happens like this it brings home the point that something like this can happen at a moment’s notice. That’s why Selby hopes a big crowd finds its way to downtown Des Moines at the noon hour today. From now on, they’ll dedicate the Torch Run to Scott Bryant’s memory. Today’s leg of the Torch Run begins at Nollen Plaza in downtown Des Moines and end in Ames where the Iowa Games are held. When the Special Olympics’ flame is lit tonight, that will be done in Bryant’s honor, too. Bryant left behind a wife and two daughters in Keokuk.
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