GILBERT, AZ — A community in Gilbert is mourning the loss of a 16-year-old boy who died in a car crash on Saturday.
In a statement late Monday, Gilbert police confirmed the death of Bohdie Larson, who was a student at American Leadership Academy - Gilbert North, and whose father is the athletic director at Highland High School.
Police said Larson attempted to make a left turn at the intersection of Sosoba Street and Queen Creek Road when his car -- a 2002 Toyota Corolla -- was struck on the driver's side door by a 2001 GMC Yukon, driven by a 42-year-old man.
On Saturday night, @GilbertPolice responded to our fifth fatal collision this year when a 16 year old was killed. More details below. Help keep our roads safe. Please remember: Speed down. Eyes up. #DriveSafely! 🚗 pic.twitter.com/jjULtiQYp9— Gilbert Police Dept. (@GilbertPolice) October 15, 2019
The man was not injured, police said, but his wife, a 39-year-old woman, was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police said neither speed nor impairment were factors in the crash, but the cause remains under investigation.
"Great kid, great friend. He would always be there for me," said Ethan Schenck, who went to church with Bohdie for years.
During a fall break when they should have all been hanging out with Bohdie; family and friends instead were hanging blue ribbons at a park near the 16-year-old's home.
"He was special to a lot of people. Just a huge heart," said Brandon Larson, Bohdie's father. "My wife keeps saying, God needed his heart, and that's why he was taken from us."
Everyone has a different memory of Bohdie, who was shy, but around friends had a big personality.
"He was pretty funny, he would always make jokes and stuff. He's always trying to make someone else smile, it was never about him," said Scheneck.
"He had a tagline that he would always say to his brothers, his sister and friends: 'Lets go on an adventure.' And his thing was, let's go find something to do," said Brandon.
Bohdie lived out his favorite phrase. He was a pole vaulter and soccer star, who recently picked up a part-time job to help pay for his club soccer fees.
"He desired to go play at the next level," said Larson. "Everything he's done, that he’s put his mind to, he’s been good at."
"I think it impacted the community a lot, to the point where people were like, 'How can we help?'," said Kim Jackson, a community member who helped organize the ribbon event.
In a tweet over the weekend, the Highland High School football team said: "We are heartbroken for our Athletic Director, Coach Brandon Larson & his wife, Brittney. They lost their 16-year-old son Bohdie in a car accident this weekend. We are asking our Hawk Football family to come together and help them out. We love you, Coach!"
The tweet included a link to a GoFundMe page that has been set up to assist with funeral costs and services.
As of Monday evening, that account has received more than $24,000 in funds, more than double its initial goal of $10,000. The page has more than 70 comments from people expressing their condolences.
Monday morning, Bohdie's dad said in a tweet, which included a link to a news article about his son's death: "Thank you all for your support. We could [sic] have done it without everyone’s love and prayers. We will let everyone know when services are. They will be Saturday; don’t have a time yet."
"Our hearts are full of gratitude & love for the messages sent from all over the state of AZ for Coach Larson and his beautiful family in their time of sorrow. They are so grateful. Thanks for your thoughts, prayers, or donations. Football is family no matter what team you’re on," another tweet from the Highland High football team read.
For Bohdie's brothers, sister, and parents, the permanence of the loss is still sinking in.
"We're going to struggle. When we wake up in the morning and he is not there, it's difficult," said Brandon.
The ribbons, on every pole and tree in the neighborhood, will be a reminder though.
"Is just that gentle reminder that we are here," said Jackson.
And a reminder that Bohdie is still there too, in the memory and hearts of so many family and friends.
"When I see that, just reminds me of the impact he made and how special he was," said Brandon.
Our hearts are full of gratitude & love for the messages sent from all over the state of AZ for Coach Larson and his beautiful family in their time of sorrow. They are so grateful. Thanks for your thoughts, prayers or donations. Football is family no matter what team you’re on. pic.twitter.com/N2Xi05X2ns— Highland Hawks Football (@HighlandHawksFB) October 14, 2019