A memorial service for 11-year old longboarder Dustin Mackenzie was held Saturday in Abbotsford, a sad reminder the family says, of the importance of wearing a helmet.
Mackenzie crashed almost two weeks ago while skating down Bevan Avenue without a helmet. He died two days later of a critical head injury. Police say he likely would have survived if he had been wearing a helmet.
Joanne Mackenzie, Dustin's mom, says her son was the type of boy who loved everybody.
"He had a very big heart," she said. "He had little buddies he looked after. He always stuck by their side. He was an amazing boy. I really loved him and I'm going to miss him."
Mackenzie says it was unusual for her son to not be wearing his helmet.
"Even at times when he had one of those stand up and push along scooters, he would wear his helmet. The other times he had with other skateboards, he wore his helmet. I don't know what it was…for some reason, just that one night, he didn't wear a helmet."
Community rallies around family
Since the tragedy, many Abbotsford residents have come forward to help.
Jesse Wegenast from the 5 and 2 Ministries, the church to which the Mackenzies belong, says there has been a real outpouring of generosity.
"I was shopping in Superstore, bumped into a guy I went to class with at UFV [University of the Fraser Valley], and we started chatting," he said.
"I was just picking up a few items for the Mackenzie family, and I was just mentioning to him what was going on. He pulled out his wallet, and he had 15 bucks in there. He handed me 15 bucks and said, this is to cover what I can of what's being picked up."
The skateboarding community has also stepped up to support the family. Replay, the local skateboard shop, will host a series of skateboarding safety workshops this summer. Randy Monchalin, who works at the store, hopes it will help kids learn the importance of helmets.
"It’s sad that a tragedy had to spark this. We had small plans [to launch boarding safety programs] but this just gives it a bigger push to get it done now, because we can save anyone else that might think it’s safe to go downhill without a helmet."
At Saturday's memorial service, stickers were handed out in the shape of a longboard, saying "In loving memory of Dustin, wear your helmet."
About 100 people showed up to celebrate Dustin's life at Abbotsford's Jubilee Park.