Life story

Life Story: Keegan Cole Smith, 13, Cedar Hill | Obituary

Those who knew Keegan Smith smile through tears as they remember the teenager’s sheer exuberance.

“We installed a Ring Camera on our front door,” said her mother, Mary Jane “MJ” Smith of Cedar Hill. “Every time he went out, he left a dance video for whoever was going to watch it later.

“It got us through, just hearing people’s stories. They say if they were having a bad day he would make sure that when he left you, when he walked away, you got a smile on your face.

Keegan, who had just entered eighth grade at Northwest Valley Elementary School, was killed in what his mother called a “terrible UTV accident” on a holiday weekend camping trip of Work with his family.

“He was doing what he loved with who he loved,” she said.

MJ said Keegan’s love for life was evident from her first moments.

“He was such a happy baby and he wanted everyone to be happy,” she said. “It’s a famous thing in the family that when he was little he would see someone upset and then try to do whatever he could to make you laugh, to be silly, to surprise you. He liked to surprise people.

Keegan grew up in the blended family created when MJ, 32, married Ricky Smith, 38, a father of three, in 2015.

“Ricky and I have been together for 11 years and married for six years. He adopted Keegan when we got married,” MJ said. “He’s the only father Keegan has ever known.”

Keegan got along well with his brothers Evan, 17, Ethan, 16, and Elijah, 14.

“He and Elijah are only nine months apart,” MJ said. “Elijah could come up with any plan and Keegan could make sure they executed it. Ethan was Keegan hanging out with to chill out and chill out. And he looked up at Evan. He wanted to act like him, s ‘dress like him.

Until the mule phase, that is to say.

“Keegan decided he wanted to have a mule, and he grew a wonderful one. He was so proud of it. He got up an hour and a half early to make sure his mule was ready for the day. daytime.

Even as a small child, Keegan’s outgoing nature was evident.

“Oh, he was a talker. The teachers always said they couldn’t shut him up, ”MJ said. “We were like, ‘You have to shut up when the teacher talks.’ And in fact, he had tears in his eyes and said, “I’m just a little kid, but I have a lot to say!”

While he enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, Keegan also enjoyed being lonely, especially if that meant spending time in nature.

“He loved everything that was outside, camping, fishing, hunting,” his mother said. “He would do a lot of things on his own. He set up traps to catch the animals so that he could study them. He caught lizards, butterflies – he could catch any creature there.

Keegan also liked to hunt for food.

“He was chasing squirrels from his bedroom window,” MJ said with a laugh. “He would strip it and grill it for his father so that he could eat it for dinner.”

But not all animals were made to eat.

“He had two lizards that he kept as pets,” MJ said. “One that we bought him and one that he told Ricky’s best friend about. We had visited and we were leaving, and here is this little boy coming out of the house with this big old terrarium. We said, “Keegan, what is this? And he said, ‘He told me I could have it! Hurry before he changes his mind.

Keegan enjoyed one-on-one outings with his father.

“He loved having a ‘man’s day’ as he called it,” MJ said. “They would go shopping and buy things that I wouldn’t let him have, or they would go out for lunch, especially in their forties. Ricky works nights; he was coming home from work and they were going to lunch.

Keegan played baseball before becoming passionate about wrestling.

“He lost a (wrestling) tournament early on and told us it was because he wasted too much time in baseball,” his mother said. “He was a rookie 100-pound state champion in his sixth-year rookie year.”

Keegan also liked to play video games.

“He would always have an excuse as to why he lost, however,” said MJ. “It was a problem in the game, or the computer was lagging behind – even though we have high speed internet. We teased him about it.

MJ said Keegan never shied away from being in the photos.

“I am so grateful for all the photos I have,” she said. “You never had to fight him to get one; he would take a picture with anyone. This is my advice to people: take all the pictures. You will not regret it.

MJ, from Cedar Hill, who has worked at Italian restaurant Sorellis since the age of 14, said it was “amazing” to see how much the community has come together around his family.

“I absolutely cannot individually contact everyone who has called, texted, sent cards, dropped off things at home and at work,” she said. “You still think your kid is cool and everyone loves them, but the support we got shows that yes they really did.

“People with little boys have told us that Keegan is exactly the kind of son they hope to raise: a versatile, generous and funny kid. They definitely broke the mold with him, that’s for sure.

“The Story of Life,” published on Saturday on the Leader Publications website, focuses on an individual’s impact on their community.

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