Tyler Rich will never forget the horrific experience he encountered while closing out 2020.
The 34-year-old country singer revealed via Twitter on Jan. 1 that he discovered a dead man's body while running through Chicopee Memorial State Park in Massachusetts on New Year's Eve.
"I was starting the last day of the year on what was going to be about a 4-mile run. After about 2.5 miles, I ran across a dam in Chicopee State Park, and then down into a heavily wooded area, looking for a way to cut up the hill back to the path," Rich recalled, adding that he was fairly far off from where anyone else would be running. "I then saw what I thought was a young homeless man sleeping. He was on his stomach and had a bag tied around his foot and was faced down. (Assumed maybe this was so people didn't steal his belongings while he slept)."
"After running around him, I felt bad for him. He was sleeping facedown and just looked like he was in a bad place, so I turned around and went back to check on him," he continued. "I realize he isn't breathing, and as I get around to the front of him, all I see is a lifeless face covered in blood. Everywhere. Looked like maybe shot, or blunt force."
Rich said he then started to "freak out," and sprinted up the hill to try and find someone with a cell phone to call 9-1-1. He eventually found a couple walking on the main path about 30 yards away and used one of their phones to make the call to police.
"[I] spent about an hour doing statements with state troopers, FBI, local police, detectives, etc.," Rich said. "This young man looked like maybe 18-25. Couldn't tell, 'cause of all the blood, but his skin was still white. Didn't look like it happened too long before I got there."
"After sometime, the officers found a gun in one of his hands under his body. Which means it potentially could have been a suicide... not that there is any type of thing that could help me cope with finding him like this," Rich continued. "But, for sure knowing he wasn't there discarded by someone else, and that he was there where he wanted to be, will at least put me a little more at ease."
Rich concluded his post by telling fans he's doing what he can "to process this -- the image, the reality."
"It's been a rough 24 hours. Something I'll never unsee," he said. "Or forget the couple minutes when it was just him and I down at the water as I figured out what the hell was going on and what I was going to do. Dead silent middle of a state park. Just running water, and him and I."
"He looked like a young, normal kid. Someone with a family probably wondering where he was," he added. "Whoever you are and were, RIP friend."
Rich later shared to his Instagram Stories that he learned some more information about the man. "His name was Eric," he wrote. "I see he was a horror movie and pop punk fan, with what looks like an adorable rescue pup. We had a ton in common."
"I wish I got to meet him, have a beer with him, and talk about what was hurting him so much. I'm broken over this and I didn't even know him," he added. "Hug your loved ones as tight as you can today."
In another post shared to Instagram over the weekend, Rich said he was "still reflecting on this constant feeling that I was in that random part of the park at the exact time I was supposed to be, to find that young man."
"There are many coincidences that make me truly believe he led me to where he was at. I found him right around noon. About 30 minutes later, I looked down at my watch. My running app had paused once I stopped and found him, and it said my average pace at that time was... 11:11," Rich wrote. "I told the police and the couple that gave me their phone, to look at my watch, and that maybe that was a good omen."
"Yesterday, I spoke to his sweet mom, which was one of the toughest things I can remember. We talked about the timeline and series of events. She told [me] the last text he [sent] was at 11:11. And I found him just 45 minutes later," he continued. "I truly believe his spirit led me down that random side of the mountain to find him. They say when you see 11:11, that angels are with you, and to wish for whatever you want. To feel at ease. That the universe is on your side. A lot of you know my song '11:11' is about loss. So anytime I see those numbers, it resonates with me. This specific series of little events is somehow bringing comfort to his family, and myself."
A spokeswoman for the Chicopee Police Department told local TV station WWLP that the Massachusetts State Police are investigating the case. The man's identity has yet to be released.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.