ORANGEVALE -- The parents of a snowboarder who died in an accident last Thursday near Lake Tahoe want him to be remembered, not as a statistic on a ski slope, but for how he lived.
"He loved life," said Colleen Karlin of her son, David. "He was always happy."
"David took in everybody's situations," added his father, Larry Karlin. "He'd come up there and hold your hands and take you in and just look in your eyes and just love on ya."
"When he was 3 [years old], he was playing and...some kid fell, and he stopped what he was doing and he went and helped him up," Colleen recalled. "And I said, 'oh he's got the gift of empathy.' And I saw it all his life."
David was known to give up his sports equipment to kids who couldn't afford their own. In his photos on Facebook, David is almost always the guy with the biggest smile. Whether it was football, academics, or even bodybuilding, his mother says David constantly strived to be better, and always had encouraging words for others: "Don't give up on yourself, don't think small of yourself. Always know that you can reach higher."
The 23-year-old was a graduate of Casa Roble High School in Orangevale, and a student at Sac State studying communications and government.
"He wanted to be a game-changer," Colleen explained. "He wanted to change things. He wanted speak for the one that couldn't speak."
Colleen said David was an experienced snowboarder. And she doesn't blame Sierra-At-Tahoe where David died Thursday after crashing into a fence pole with no helmet on.
"I told the manager, 'Please convey with my whole heart, I appreciate how long they worked on David,'" Colleen said.
Colleen doesn't believe David was being reckless on the slopes, but rather missed a turn. She describes it as a "total freak stupid accident." David had been snowboarding since he was 13.
The focus of FOX40's conversation with the Karlins Monday night was not about how David died, but how he lived: a young man who was always giving of himself to other people, and comfortable praying to God openly in front of others.
His parents also describe David as a best friend to many people. The Karlins have heard from several who have said, "I'm going to miss my best friend. And I'm going to miss the guy that encouraged me."
"He had so much more to do and I guess he was just done," Colleen concluded. "And I can't come up with an explanation. I guess...he had done enough in his short years. And I hate that."
As painful as it is, Colleen said she knows her son wouldn't want anyone to lose faith over this tragedy.
Larry said he advised one of David's friends, "Take what he planted in you, and let that grow."
A GoFundMe account has been set up for David's memorial expenses.