Friends, family pay tribute to an athlete dying young |

Friends, family pay tribute to an athlete dying young

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunKyle D. was one of many friends of Coogan Kelly to speak at a memorial service at Sugar Bowl ski area Sunday.

An overflow audience of 450 people paid their final respects to Charles “Coogan” Kelly at a memorial service Sunday afternoon at Sugar Bowl ski area.

Kelly was the victim of a shooting at a Halloween party in Reno on Oct. 28 that took the lives of three party-goers. The 21-year-old Truckee resident was a rising star in the world of snowboarding, attracting sponsors and appearing in several films.

Among those attending Sunday’s service were friends and relatives wearing black T-shirts with a gold silhouette of Kelly holding a snowboard, along with his name and the years of his life, 1986 to 2007.

A video played at Sunday’s memorial service showed clips of the snowboarder riding rails and hucking off cliffs and tabletops. The crowd laughed, cried and later cheered as they watched Kelly do what he was most passionate about.

Friends and family took turns sharing stories of Kelly in front of a small stage that was lined with framed photos, snowboard boots filled with red roses and Kelly’s map of the Truckee area identifying all the rails he was planning to ride.

“He’s not here right now, but he’s not gone,” Kelly’s girlfriend, Samantha Van Ruiten, said to the audience.

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