Mom of 16-Year-Old Killed in Idaho Plane Crash Reflects on Why Quarantining with Him Was a 'Blessing'
For Alix Fredrickson and her 16-year-old son Hayden, life usually moved at 100 mph thanks to work, school and shuttling to and from soccer practice.
But because of the pandemic, the Oregon-based pair spent the last few months eating dinner together every night, playing basketball and exercising — time Fredrickson now says she cherishes after losing Hayden in a tragic plane crash over Coeur d’Alene Lake in Idaho on Sunday.
“Looking back now, quarantine was a blessing, I guess,” the grieving mom tells PEOPLE. “We had all this time together that was just so precious.”
Hayden died alongside his father, PGA golf pro Sean Fredrickson, 48, and his step-siblings Sofie, 15, and Quinn Olsen, 11, after the seaplane they were riding in collided with another plane and crashed into the lake.
“You can’t even put into words the pain that I’m feeling right now,” Fredrickson says. “The loss, the sense of emptiness, the void that I know will never be filled. I keep waiting for him to come home.”
The last day she spent with her son was “perfect”: he hung out with his girlfriend of eight months and requested a special dinner before he was to head out with his dad on a trip to visit Sean’s parents.
Fredrickson says the next morning was a special one, too, that’s now seared into her memory as the last time she ever saw her son.
“I had to leave that Thursday morning before he did, and as I was backing my car out of the driveway and putting the garage door down, he leaned his head down with his goofy hair and was waving at me as the door was going down,” she recalls. “And he leaned the other way and waved at me. The door almost went down, and I decided for some reason to open it back up. And I opened it back up and just took him all in. I don’t know why. And I waved and blew kisses, and then I left. And that would be the last time that I saw him.”
She continues, “His playful and fun nature, our bond, our love for each other, was just so evident in that moment. I mean, what teenage boy does that? And that’s not something he did on a regular basis by any means. It was just my last special moment with him, I guess.”
Fredrickson says her son, a rising junior at Newberg High School, was an avid athlete who played on the varsity soccer team as a freshman and sophomore, but who also harbored a “creative, sensitive, sweet” side that included a passion for photography and graphic design.
His dream was to create his own brand and design T-shirts, something Fredrickson says she and Hayden’s friends have been talking about creating in his honor using one of his designs. She also hopes to possibly start a soccer scholarship in town for underprivileged kids.
“He was the happiest boy and I think that’s what’s so hard. He was one of the good ones,” she says. “Well-liked and loved. He was essentially my whole life. I couldn’t have asked for a better kid.”
Fredrickson says she and Hayden used to joke about how she’d cope when he left for college in two years, and that the biggest worry was how she’d handle sending her “life” off to school.
“Here it is two years earlier than I planned, and I don’t have him anymore,” she says. “I know he worried about me, and how I would survive without him, and we obviously never envisioned it would be something like this.”
Hayden, Sofie, Quinn and Sean, who was the head PGA golf professional at Oswego Lake Country Club, were among eight victims in the mid-air collision, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.
Neil Lunt, the 58-year-old pilot of the seaplane transporting the family, was also killed alongside another occupant who has not been identified. Two occupants of the Cessna, which the seaplane collided with, have not yet been publicly identified.