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West Sacramento motel residents remember neighbor killed by big rig

Bill Mitchell and residents of the Granada Inn gather Sunday at West Capitol Avenue for a candlelight vigil for their friend, Steven Royster, who was struck and killed by a big rig on April 3. Royster had lived at the Granada Inn for a year and was a “good Samaritan and a good tenant,” Mitchell said.
Bill Mitchell and residents of the Granada Inn gather Sunday at West Capitol Avenue for a candlelight vigil for their friend, Steven Royster, who was struck and killed by a big rig on April 3. Royster had lived at the Granada Inn for a year and was a “good Samaritan and a good tenant,” Mitchell said. aseng@sacbee.com

The residents of the Granada Inn off I-80 in West Sacramento gathered around the motel’s sand-filled swimming pool Sunday night, before starting a short vigil down West Capitol Avenue.

They don’t have much; some stay at the motel for months or years because they can’t afford to live elsewhere. But the longtime residents look out for each other, and one of their own had died. They were determined to remember him.

A big rig struck and killed Steve Royster, 62, on April 3 at 2 a.m. in the 4700 block of West Capitol Avenue. The distraught driver stopped and was cooperative with officers, said West Sacramento police Sgt. Roger Kinney.

Royster had lived at the motel with his wife, Sandy, for almost a year.

A former driver for a courier service, Royster lost his job about a decade ago when he became ill, Sandy Royster said. His illness was akin to dementia, she said, but neither she nor the other residents could name it. They all agreed he had trouble walking and would often fall down.

His relatives wanted Royster in a nursing home, but he wouldn’t hear of it, his wife said. He wasn’t always happy at the Granada Inn, she said, but he could forget his problems for awhile when hanging out with friends and talking about motorcycles, hunting or fishing.

Sandy Royster said her husband’s death was an accident. “He lost his balance like he always did,” she said. “If there wasn’t a handhold, he couldn’t pull himself up.

“Usually, he’d holler for help. He’d yell, ‘Sandy, help me.’ I know he was calling me.”

She wrote a card to him. It sits on their dresser. “I love you, baby,” it says. “See you in heaven one day.”

About 10 people took part in the vigil, walking about 150 yards to a spot close to where he died. Standing in near darkness amid the drone of the nearby interstate, they gathered in a circle on the shoulder of West Capitol and lit their candles.

“Thank you, Steve, for the life you gave us,” Bill Mitchell said. “For the fun, the laughs. We will never forget you.”

Call The Bee’s Phillip Reese, (916) 321-1137.

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