Charlene Allard still remembers the advice she’d often give her son before he’d set out on his longboard.
“I always told him be careful. Watch your surroundings,” recalls Allard.
Eight months ago, Allard’s 14-year-old son Marcus Larabie died after he was hit by a car. His death is one of three longboard-related fatalities in Abbotsford within the past 14 months.
On Saturday, grief stricken family and friends came together for a memorial event. Close to 50 longboarders from across the lower mainland took over part of a city park, all of them riding and remembering their fallen friends.
They are also hoping to get a positive message out about the sport they love.
“Do it to show that people should wear their helmets and longboarders are on the road. We are people, we do a sport. It’s not always dangerous,” said Wade Saint Age, a close friend of Larabie and the organizer of the event.
In recent years, there have been longboarding-related fatalities across the province, prompting calls from police and the health community for tougher regulations.
In the absence of those, teens at Saturday’s event are pushing each other to take safety more seriously.
“People think just because they’re wearing it on their head it doesn’t look cool, but no it saves your life,” said Saint Age.
“If maybe one person decides to wear a helmet, then it’s successful you know,” said Michael Bridge of Yardwaste Downhill, an Abbotsford-based group hoping to raise awareness within the longboarding community about safety.
Organizers want this weekend’s event to become an annual one. They say the next step is to push the city for a safe place for longboarders to ride.
“We’re hoping also that one day we can save up the money and able to create a long board park where longboarders can ride safely around and not have to worry about cars and they can actually do what they love to do in a place that’s safe,” said Saint Age.
“I think Abbotsford really needs it.”