HAMPSTEAD, N.H. — Alex Danielson was doing what he loved when he fell off his skateboard last month and suffered what turned out to be a fatal brain injury.
The 17-year-old Pinkerton Academy student fell into a coma shortly after the accident and never regained consciousness before his death four days later on June 30.
Lee Danielson's last memory of his son is the smile on his face.
Even though Alex was unconscious in a Boston hospital bed, that smile during those final moments before he died reminded his father of what a likable, fun-loving teenager his son was.
"I wanted to be around him as much as I could," Lee Danielson said yesterday.
Alex was longboarding with two friends down a hill on Bloody Brook Road in Hampstead June 26. His mother, Sandra, said he wasn't wearing a helmet when he fell and bumped his head on the pavement.
"His friends said he got up and said he was OK, but had a headache," she said.
Soon after, Alex fell into a coma and was rushed to Lawrence (Mass.) General Hospital. He was later transferred to Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
Four areas of his brain were damaged in the fall, his mother said. Doctors gave the family the choice of operating on Alex, possibly leaving him with permanent brain damage, or taking him off life support and waiting for a miracle. They chose the latter.
"We knew Alex would never be Alex again because he had too much brain damage," his father said.
For the four days before Alex died, many family members and friends visited him for what they knew would be the last time, his mother said.
"He died doing what he loved doing," she said.
Many of Alex's friends attended a memorial serviceat Brookstone Grille in Derry, Sandra Danielson said.
She said she wasn't aware her son had ever skateboarded down Bloody Brook Road, although he wasn't new to the sport.
"They were going to go fishing that day and chose to do that instead," she said.
An avid athlete, Sandra Danielson said Alex had grown up longboarding the hills of Newburyport, Mass., where the family lived. In recent years, he moved to Haverhill, Mass., with his mother and had just completed his junior year at Pinkerton Academy.
He was visiting friends in Hampstead, where his aunt also lives, at the time of the accident.
He was known to his friends as "A.D." and was an exceptional baseball and basketball player, his mother said.
"He had great balance," she said.
A few years ago, a friend bet him $50 that he couldn't hit a home run at a Newburyport field. On the first swing, the ball went sailing over the fence and he collected his winnings, his mother said.
"I used to call him "Diesel" because he hit so many home runs," Lee Danielson said.