AUSTIN (KXAN) — Friends and family of 17-year-old Austin High School student Jack De Leon gathered at Mount Bonnell Monday morning to watch the sunrise before spreading his ashes. Jack died in a motorcycle crash last week.
Monday, KXAN spoke with Jack’s father for the first time, at his grandfather’s home where family gathered in what appeared to be a celebration. And in many ways, it was. A celebration of life.
“It hurts, but it makes you happy to celebrate his life and we want to honor him,” Billy De Leon said, pointing to his family’s Native American heritage as the reason.
He explained after a period of mourning, “on the fourth day we stop being sad and we celebrate.”
Monday marked the fourth day since his the fatal crash.
De Leon said his son, Jack, was a numbers guy, a brilliant young man who loved math and science. He described him as the best person he knew. Someone who played football, taught himself how to play piano and could solve a Rubik’s cube in 20 seconds.
“We got him a 4×4, a 5×5, a 6×6, and a 7×7,” De Leon said, talking about different sized Rubik’s cubes. “He would always take things as far as he could, it was never good enough, he was never satisfied.”
Jack had hopes of going to MIT. “He was in calculus as a junior in high school and wanted to become an engineer,” De Leon said.
But no equation, formula or variable could make what happened April 7 at 6:45 p.m. any easier to understand.
“All of a sudden traffic just started to stop and we could tell something happened and I just knew. I felt it. I just felt this sick feeling, sinking feeling in my heart,” De Leon said.
He was following his son on Grove Blvd., near the Austin Community College Riverside campus, just two cars behind, when Jack got into a crash on his motorcycle.
“I delivered my son at home. He was born at home. So I was the first person to touch him in this world and I felt his last pulse. I was the last person to hold his hand,” De Leon said, tearing up. He wants others to hold onto the time they have left with their loved ones.
“You think you have forever and you don’t,” he said. “If anybody can take anything from us, it’s that we should come together in life. Not just because of death.”
De Leon told KXAN because his son was an organ donor, he’s taken some comfort in learning his son will be able to save the lives of others.
Grief counselors were at Austin High to provide support to classmates and teachers.