Richard Styles always loved the theater.
He visited nearly all 50 states during his life, performing in shows and working as part of stage crews at different venues. He worked alongside some well-known actors, including David Hyde Pierce, Alan Arkin and the late Troy Donahue, and was employed as a stagehand at a number of Broadway shows, including “Jersey Boys.”
His career—described by his family as his passion—even led Mr. Styles to his future wife, Mary: They met when both were working on the musical “42nd Street” at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport.
The 42-year-old’s life was cut tragically short early Sunday morning after he was struck by a taxi while attempting to flag down help after his car became disabled on Sunrise Highway in Hampton Bays, according to State Police Investigator David Ferreby.
“You could not have asked for a nicer guy,” Mr. Styles’s mother, Eileen Styles of Mastic, said of her son when reached on Monday. “He would give the shirt off his back. He was always looking to help people … We’re lucky we had him for 42 years.”
Authorities said this week that they do not expect to file any criminal charges against the driver of the taxi, whom they declined to identify but said is employed by Sunset Taxi in Islandia. State Police said the driver, who was driving in the westbound lanes near the Hampton Bays exit, immediately stopped after hitting Mr. Styles at 2:22 a.m. Police also said that Mr. Styles was standing in the highway when he was struck.
An ambulance transported Mr. Styles to the Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, where he was pronounced dead, according to authorities.
The accident remains under investigation as of earlier this week, and State Police declined to offer any additional details.
“It’s a tragic accident,” said a manager for Sunset Taxi who would only identify himself as Joe. “We feel terrible.”
When he was not rehearsing for a show, or looking out for others, Mr. Styles could most likely be found on the water, according to survivors. He enjoyed fishing on local waters, though his mother said he did not have a favorite fishing hole, and also liked to go kayaking and boating. “He liked anything connected with water,” his mother said.
Mr. Styles and his wife, who he married four years ago at Gurney’s Inn in Montauk and were living in Eastport, together owned Stage Door School of Dance in East Patchogue. Survivors say they were the perfect match—he loved the theater, while she has a gift for choreography.
Though her son never had any children, Eileen Styles said he was adored by his cocker spaniel, Betty, and many nieces and nephews.
“We were a real close family,” Ms. Styles said while reminiscing about her son. “[His nieces and nephews] adore him. He would take them places and do things with them. They meant a lot to him.”
Though the loss of her son is still being absorbed by family and friends, Ms. Styles said she has been overwhelmed by condolences and well wishes from those who new Mr. Styles the best.
“Ricky—I can’t tell you how many people liked him,” Ms. Styles said. “He was caring and giving. He had the biggest heart out of everyone I know.”
Mr. Styles attended the former South Manor School District, which is now part of the Eastport South Manor School District, while growing up and that is where he discovered his love of the theater, according to his family. He graduated from the Westhampton Beach High School in 1993.
Brian Tymann, a Westhampton Beach Village trustee who grew up with Mr. Styles, in an email this week described his old friend was an “all-around good guy.” At South Manor, the pair worked alongside each other in school plays.
“We share a huge amount of mutual friends, and I always liked him a lot,” Mr. Tymann said. “He was liked by everyone growing up. He was naturally funny and talented—he didn’t have to try to be liked.”
In addition to his mother and wife, Mr. Styles is survived by his father, Geoffrey Styles of Mastic; a brother, Daniel Styles and his wife, Eileen, of Mastic; a grandmother, Lillian Styles of Smithtown; and several nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements were not finalized as of earlier this week.