Even in a family of 10 siblings, Bryan Boisvert stood out as a character.
Living with his mother, Bryan stopped speaking at 14. Ask him a question, he’d write the answer.
Not long after that, his mother drowned in a fishing accident, and Bryan returned to live with his father in Puyallup.
“He’d whisper, and we all teased him,” said his father, Steve Boisvert. “We called him ‘Silent Bob.’ His last 11-12 years, he’d just whisper.”
Bryan lived in an apartment above his father’s home. The two fished, bowled and played cards together.
On Dec. 8, the last day of Bryan’s life, father and son walked the few blocks from their home to the 5th Street Eagles Club for a card tournament.
“We had to watch the Seahawks first,” Steve said. “For Bryan, everything stopped for the Seahawks. It was always that way.”
The Seahawks lost to the 49ers, 19-17, and Steve got bounced from the tournament in the first round.
“I didn’t do worth a damn, but Bryan stayed in until the last three tables,” Steve said.
Steve left the club about 8 p.m., walking home. A little more than an hour later, Bryan followed.
“You have to cross the railroad tracks about half a block from the Eagles,” Steve said. “It couldn’t be a thousand feet.”
Wearing a hooded sweatshirt against the cold weather, 27-year-old Bryan Boisvert started across the tracks just ahead of an Amtrak passenger train. He was hit and killed instantly.
“On the 11 o’clock news that night, I heard about a man in his 20s being hit by a train in Puyallup, but I never thought for a moment it could be Bryan,” his stepmom, Cheri Boisvert, said. “The next morning, two uniformed policemen and a chaplain came to the door.”
Steve Boisvert had the task of calling Bryan’s nine siblings.
“I couldn’t believe it,” brother Andy Moats said. “He’d had a tough time for a year or so, but a few months ago had gone to a program that got him on medication, got him feeling good, looking healthy again.
“We were in a bowling league together. We played softball together. He was on the right path back, finally.”
Steve said Bryan had been severely depressed after losing a job, and that getting treatment had given him his son back.
Steve remembers Bryan as a competitor, as the junior high school wrestler who was beaten but never pinned.
“I’d go to his matches, come home and tell my parents, ‘I want to be a wrestler, too,’” sister Stephanie Boisvert said.
At 15, Bryan began working at a carwash. For a little more than six years, he worked for a roofing company, then lost that job last year.
Bryan’s new medications had calmed him, and he was scheduled to return to work Jan. 2.Asked about the years of whispering, Andy laughed about his younger brother.
“You could have conversations with him, so it wasn’t a problem,” Andy said. “One night he told us he’d stopped talking in school because someone had teased him.
“The funny thing was, we went to a karaoke bar and Bryan got up and belted out a country song in his normal voice. Then he went back to whispering.”
After Bryan’s death, Andy and his wife built a small cross and put it near the tracks where he’d been killed.
“People responded to it, and more and more Seahawks things were added,” Andy said. “It got pretty big.”
Last Sunday, Steve and some of his family watched the Super Bowl, with Bryan’s ashes in an urn near the television.
“They’d high-five Bryan when the Seahawks did something great,” Cheri said. “Then after the game, we all went to the memorial near the tracks and told him about the game.”
In the weeks since Bryan’s death, his family has mourned and changed.
“We didn’t always keep in touch as much as we should have, let a month go between calls to kids out of state,” Cheri said. “No more. Everyone calls everyone more often, and we never hang up without saying ‘I love you.’”
Initially, the Pierce County Medical Examiner ruled Bryan’s death a suicide. After viewing video footage from the train, officials ruled it was an accident.
“We know alcohol was involved,” Puyallup police Captain Scott Engle said. “People told us he was drinking. We don’t know how impaired his judgment was.”
The family knows it will never know exactly what happened that night, but they’ve all thought about it.
“He had his hood up, maybe he was just walking, thinking about something and never heard or saw the train,” Stephanie said.
Andy said a video from the train showed his brother walking with his head down across the tracks.
“That’s how he’d walk sometimes,” Andy said. “He said he liked to watch his feet when he walked. Maybe those last seconds, he was watching himself walk.”Larry LaRue: 253-597-8638