Family members and friends gathered to release sky lanterns after a memorial service at Palm No ...

Celebration of life for 18-year-old killed in crash encourages all to ‘Love like Ashton’

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Friday would have been Ashton Hynd’s 19th birthday. Instead, family and friends gathered to celebrate the teen’s young life.

The 18-year-old died on Nov. 28 while driving back to Las Vegas from Northern Arizona University where he was a freshman.

Bart Graves with the Arizona Department of Public Safety said that around 4:15 p.m. on Nov. 28, a three-vehicle crash happened on U.S. 93. A commercial vehicle crossed the northbound lanes from a crossover into the parking lot of a truck stop.

Hynd’s Fiat was traveling north when it struck the semi-trailer and went through a right-of-way fence into the parking lot of the truck stop, where it hit a second parked semi. Speed was a factor in the crash. and the driver of the first semi was not impaired, according to Graves.

On Friday night, hundreds of family members and friends gathered at Palm Mortuary-Jones to honor Hynd.

Those who spoke emphasized the service was a celebration of life. Several people shared memories and through tears laughed when remembering a moment shared with Ashton.

One speaker led the room in singing “Happy Birthday” to Ashton.

Ashton’s parents, Mark and Angela Hynd, greeted each speaker and hugged them before returning to their seats.

“We knew this day was going to be rough, so we figured what better way to spend it than by you amazing people,” Mark Hynd said, referring to gathering on his son’s birthday.

Many speakers encouraged everyone to “Love like Ashton.” His dad said he’s not sure anyone can live up to that goal but said everyone should try.

“If we can get close, then this world’s a better place. … He was an amazing kid that gave so much,” Mark Hynd said.

A table at the front of the chapel was covered in photos of Ashton Hynd, with shirts, hats and other items placed in his memory. During the service, a slideshow of photos and videos of him continuously played on several screens.

The tables that filled the room were each draped in a red, white and silver tablecloth, a nod to Ashton Hynd’s love of The Ohio State University and other Ohio sports teams. Some centerpieces included a Cleveland Browns football team flag and a football among the flowers.

Friday’s service was the second held in his honor. A celebration of life was held last week in Madison, Ohio. Ashton Hynd was born in Painesville, Ohio.

Mark Hynd is a trooper with Nevada State Police, and Gov. Steve Sisolak was the first person invited forward to speak.

“At this time, a time of such tragedy and such pain, we must rely on one another to share that grief to try to find the way to move forward and to honor Ashton’s life,” Sisolak said.

At the urging of the family, many in attendance on Friday, including Sisolak, wore ugly Christmas sweaters as a way to honor Ashton Hynd’s fun-loving spirit.

His dad said his son’s birth gave his life purpose. He said he, Ashton and his younger son, Braylon, maximized the time they could spend together. They would go to concerts and sporting events together or play games in their backyard.

“Almost to the point where I truly believe that we knew this time was going to be borrowed and was very short,” Mark Hynd said.

The service ended with everyone gathering outside the chapel as 19 lanterns were lit and let off into the night sky. They slowly floated away one by one around a tree adorned with lights.

“Please stop making excuses and putting love off until tomorrow because tomorrow is not promised,” Mark Hynd said.

Contact David Wilson at Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.

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