Dustin Mackenzie often rode along with his mom, Joanne, when she travelled in her mobility scooter.
She was adamant that her 11-year-old only child always wear his helmet for these trips or when he was skateboarding or cycling – two of his favourite activities.
But without Joanne’s knowledge, Dustin did not use his helmet on Saturday night when he went longboarding, even though his cousin Knight, 12, and a friend wore theirs.
That decision proved fatal.
Dustin was boarding downhill along Bevan Avenue, not far from his home, at about 10 p.m. when he took a spill near Cascade Street. Dustin smashed his head on the pavement and was taken to BC Children’s Hospital with a critical head injury.
Dustin, a Grade 5 student at Dormick Park Elementary, died two days later.
Now flowers, balloons, teddy bears, crosses and messages form a roadside memorial marking the area where he fell.
His grandmother, Nancy Mackenzie, said Dustin’s death has been unbearable for family and friends.
“He had an ability to like everyone, and everyone liked him. He was a very happy boy, always smiling,” she said.
Dustin loved to play video games — Call of Duty was one of his favourites – but he was mostly an “active, outside kid” who enjoyed hanging out with his friends and family, Nancy said.
Nancy, her son, her daughter, and her daughter’s two kids – Dustin’s cousins, Knight and Nancy, 3 – live only two blocks from where Dustin resided with Joanne, a single mom.
Nancy said her grandson spent much time at her home, and his cousins were like siblings. He was the favourite of his youngest cousin.
“He really loved his family. He was really devoted to his family,” Nancy said.
She said Dustin adored younger children, and they were drawn to him for his fun, happy nature, but he also got along well with adults.
“Everyone adored him.”
Jesse Wegenast of 5 and 2 Ministries has known the family for awhile and has been supporting them through their grief.
He said many people will miss Dustin’s exuberant spirit.
“He was always super-friendly … He was really loved, a really well-mannered kid.”
Nancy said, following Dustin’s death, the family made a difficult decision that honours his memory.
She said because Dustin loved other children, he would want to do something to “bless others with a better life,” so the family agreed to donate his organs.
“It’s what he would want,” she said.
Details for a celebration of Dustin’s life have not yet been finalized, but a Facebook page – “In Loving Memory of Dustin” – has been set up.
A request has been made for donations to help Joanne with funeral costs. For more information, contact Ward Draper or Jesse Wegenast of 5 and 2 Ministries at 604-613-4432 or 604-798-7332.