Mike Taylor, killed in Provo Canyon accident, chose lifelong mission in LDS faith

Michael Lorin Taylor is shown carrying an Olympic torch and in an undated obituary photo.

AMERICAN FORK, Utah, Sept. 27 (Gephardt Daily) — Michael Lorin Taylor, a quiet hero to members of his LDS Church community and to people who followed him on social media, will be laid to rest Saturday — nearly 50 years after emergency room doctors predicted his imminent death.

Orem resident Taylor, 70, died Friday in a single-vehicle accident near Provo Canyon.

In 1968, Taylor was a former high school track star, serving a Nebraska mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when a collision with another player during a recreational baseball game sent him on a precautionary visit to the hospital.

“At the hospital, and in a great deal of pain, I spoke to the doctor, then went into a coma,” Taylor said in an interview published in Jan. 1994 in the LDS Church magazine, The Ensign.

“I remained in the coma for 40 days. The next thing I remembered was waking up in complete darkness. I could hear the voices of my friends, doctors, and parents whispering that someone was dying.

“Then, horrified, I realized they were talking about me. The neurosurgeon told my mother I had a 15 percent chance of living. Scared by what I heard, I prayed that God would not let me die.”

In The Ensign article, Taylor talked about feeling helpless as his father stood by his bedside.

“Because I couldn’t see, talk, or move, I had no way to let people know that I could hear them. I heard my father say, ‘If you can hear me, blink or move a finger.’ But I couldn’t move even my finger.”

Taylor said he prayed to recover.

“In the dark, unable to communicate with anyone but God, I knew that he was my only chance of survival. So I continued to pray.”

Improvements came slowly, and only as the result of hard work, Taylor said, adding that he almost drowned as a nurse taught him to drink water again.

Eventually, Taylor continued physical therapy in Provo, and enrolled in the Brigham Young University speech therapy program. Traumatic brain injury had left him with a speech impairment and the inability to control his laughter.

“Well-meaning people frequently patted me on the head and talked down to me, not realizing that inside my crippled body was a normal, intelligent adult,” Taylor said in the 1994 article.

But Taylor persevered because he believed he had a new mission in life, he said.

“Knowing that I could overcome these challenges and that the Lord had a purpose for me strengthened my faith.”

Taylor taught himself to walk, then run, with difficulty, but he was able to achieve a 15-minute mile, the article says.

He attended Weber State University, which was then called Weber State College, and he earned a degree in physical education and teaching. He also ran on the track team.

Taylor ended his personal account like this:

“I still have challenges, like a speech impediment that causes some people to think I’m intellectually impaired, but I know that God can help us bring good out of our problems. I’ve learned that God blesses us with the ability to overcome great challenges if we have faith in him.”

Taylor’s obituary said he became a well-known and well-liked substitute teacher throughout the Utah Valley. In 2002, someone inspired by Taylor’s story nominated him to serve as an Olympic Torch Bearer for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Taylor was selected for that honor.

“Mike treasured that experience and was grateful for the opportunity,” the obituary said.

“In recent years, through social media, he had a large following all over the world that looked forward to his daily uplifting posts full of beauty, short messages, and inspirational music,” the obituary said

Taylor’s Facebook page, filled with messages of faith and hope, and repostings of LDS Church leaders’ quotes, has been retitled Remembering Mike Taylor. To see it, click here.

To see Taylor’s full obituary and arrangements for his funeral, scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, click here.


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