Family of Carson Crimeni could not hold back tears as they spoke at the funeral service for the Langley teen.
The celebration of life at the Church of the Valley saw hundreds of people attend, including friends, family, Carson’s hockey team, and his school community. They gathered to remember a teen whose life ended very publicly, as the moments before his death were filmed and posted online by people mocking him.
“He wanted nothing more than to be a good friend to people, and to have that friendship returned,” said Carson’s dad, Aron Crimeni.
It was a theme every speaker mentioned – Carson’s sense of humour and infectious sense of fun and energy.
Aron remembered that even when Carson was very young, he would play pranks. One day when Aron closed the fridge door, Carson yelped as though his hand was trapped between the fridge and freezer doors, scaring his father.
“He had his hand in the space between the doors, and he just laughed,” Aron said.
He loved hockey, playing the guitar, and video gaming while chatting to his friends, his father remembered.
While Aron admitted he wasn’t much of a cook, often heading for the frozen food section of the grocery store, Carson had other ideas.
“He would grab me by my arms and drag me to the meat aisle, promising he would cook me something, and he did,” Aron said.
He loved the family cat Coco, wanted a dog, and planned to be a vet when he grew up, Aron said.
Every speaker mentioned Carson’s big, joking personality and his energy.
“He had a huge heart,” said Lisa Marie Fraser, vice-principal at Walnut Grove Secondary, where Carson had finished Grade 8 last June.
It was his desire to find friendship that many speakers at the service believe led indirectly to his death.
In the late afternoon of Aug. 7, near the Walnut Grove Skate Park, someone filmed Carson so inebriated he could barely stand or speak. People in the videos encouraged him to consume more pills.
He was found unconscious later that evening and was declared dead at hospital. Police are investigating the circumstances of his death and those involved in filming him.
“It hurts me to think of the pain my brother was in in the last hours of his life,” said Bella Griffiths, Carson’s older sister. “His life was taken, and he was just trying to fit in.”
“I feel there’s a real need for change to happen in our world, so this doesn’t happen to some other child,” said Chantell Griffiths, Carson’s mother.
His aunt Diane Crimeni broke down when recounting that Carson had finally got to play with her puppy for the first time before his death.
When Fraser asked at Walnut Grove for staff who had some direct connection to Carson, there were 28 members who spoke up.
“Carson’s character is a testament to the love, support, and guidance from his family,” she said.
“The loss to our community is great,” she said.
Several speakers mentioned the need for the community to come together to prevent any other tragedies like Carson’s death in the future.
Aron, who had trouble composing himself as he spoke, said Carson was the one who brought his whole family closer together.
“I just want to say to my son, thank you for being my best friend, and my closest friend,” Aron said.
Since Carson’s death, an outpouring of grief has come from the community. A petition calling for justice has racked up thousands of signatures, and an impromptu memorial of flowers, candles, and stuffed animals has been created at the Walnut Grove Skate Park.
The Independent Investigations Office is looking into police actions on the night of Carson’s death, after the first police officers to respond to a 911 call, sparked by social media posts, failed to find the boy. He was found about an hour and a half to two hours later after a second call.