Mike Serr has unique memories of his son. Just the two of them, on a mountaintop with nothing but snow and rock. Or laying in a tent, in the pitch black, talking.
They are cherished memories. Too cherished, too soon.
Aiden was killed in a car accident at the age of 19 in Maple Ridge on Monday morning at 2:30 a.m.
“We’ve hiked some of the most amazing mountains and peaks,” said Mike. “Any parents who haven’t done that with their kids have got to do it.
“We would talk about everything from people to relationships to the solar system … and those are special moments.”
Mike is a deputy chief with the Abbotsford Police Department. His family’s tragedy became national news as it followed closely on the heels of the fatal shooting of Mike’s colleague, Const. John Davidson.
Mike remembers Aiden in diapers when he first started showing an affinity for nature.
“He refused to come off the lake,” said Mike, who would take the toddler out hoping to get a half hour outdoors with him.
“He would stay out there for six hours with me.”
Aiden became an avid and impressive photographer, with a goal to become a professional shooter for no less than National Geographic.
His mother, Kirsten Urdahl-Serr, a well known teacher at Maple Ridge secondary, said the family is blessed to have his many photos that show how Aiden viewed the world.
“The beauty of the outdoors was inspiring to him,” said Kirsten. “And animals were his focus.”
The photos are there on his Instagram account, like one showing his German Shepherd cross standing in front of a row of abandoned country cabins.
“Ghost hunting with William,” Aiden typed on the photo.
His sister Kiana, 21, tells how he took Willy with him everywhere. He loved the SPCA rescue dog, and made him the model in many of his photos. Aiden put a patch of artificial turf down in the back of his Isuzu Trooper for Willy to lay on during their travels.
“He was a really free spirit,” she said of her brother.
Kiana and Aiden were close siblings, and she can’t manage to say much more, so soon after losing him. But the family wanted to memorialize him, and honour Aiden’s memory.
“He was my best friend. We did everything together,” she said.
Kiana went to the world dance championships in Frankfurt, so Mike and Kirsten gave Aiden the opportunity to also pick a vacation on his own. He chose a National Geographic trip to Costa Rica for two weeks. He could attend as a photographer or as a naturalist, and he chose to take the trip like a young Charles Darwin. Out of 21 who attended, he was the only student who conducted and finished his research on the trip – studying the growing patterns of bryophytes on jungle trees.
He always had a patient dedication to whatever he was doing, his mom said.
Everyone knew him as gregarious and fun, but she describes him as a sensitive kid, who looked out for the little guy. That’s what the teachers at Alexander Robinson elementary told her about her son.
“He stood up for the kids who needed somebody else’s voice,” she said. “And if he felt there was a wrong, he spoke up. It’s always been about ‘what’s right’.”
His dad got the opportunity to coach him, and in sports like hockey and lacrosse Aiden could be a warrior.
“He was not always the best player on his teams, but he had a work ethic and he understood teamwork,” said Mike.
When his team won a championship banner, Aiden accepted as the team captain, then took it and handed it off to the player who was perhaps farthest from the team’s superstar. Aiden was only 14 when he made that gesture.
“That was him, on his own,” said Mike.
“He just does stuff – he doesn’t look for permission or support,” Kirsten said of Aiden. “He just does what he needs to do.”
“When he was all by himself, he knew what was right and what was wrong.”
They were a little surprised when he got involved with MP Dan Ruimy’s campaign as the Liberal party worked to unseat Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, but there he was down at the Liberal Party headquarters on election night, celebrating in a Justin Trudeau T-shirt.
Ruimy was one of the many people who offered his condolences on social media.
“He was such an inspiring young man and I am grateful to have called him a friend,” Ruimy said. “He had a passion for politics and for making this country a better place.”
“We appreciate the outpouring of support from everyone,” said Mike. “He touched a lot of people.”
A celebration of life is being planned for Nov. 25 at the Maple Ridge Baptist Church, at the corner of 222nd St. in downtown Maple Ridge at 1 p.m.
The family is planning to have a display of Aiden’s photography, and show the short film that he had been working on while attending at Simon Fraser University, where he was studying film and biology.
“Please invite everyone who knew and loved him,” reads a post by Olivia Leaf on the Facebook page created for the celebration.
The family asks that donations be made to the SPCA in Aiden’s memory.
Aiden was never destined for a desk job, or to be a police officer, said his dad. He pictures his son “with a bandanna on his head and the wind in his ear.
“At some point we were going to lose him to the world. He was going to put a backpack on and be gone for a few years.”