This post is not the stuff of an ordinary Brave Ski Mom post. In support of Jen, Randy and Kalden Charrette, many of their friends are sharing this story today. This is my contribution and memorial.
A friend, Jen Charrette, posted that her two-year had been killed in Mexico. I stared at her words and wondered.
“Maybe it was a terrible bike accident,” I thought to myself.
The next day Facebook brought me more news. A mutual Facebook friend told me that Jen’s son, Axel, had drowned in the pool of a home they were renting in Mexico. A babysitter was on duty, but couldn’t save him. “An accident, a terrible, tragic accident,” I thought to myself.
Forty eight hours had now passed since the first Facebook post went up. In addition to knowing one another through The Adventure Moms, Jen, Erica and I are part of a loose group of outdoor bloggers, male and female.
This group was buzzing. Again, via Facebook, we were sharing information, offering support and trying to console one another. Together, we were trying to process this devastating news.
And then it got worse.
A Good Dream Gone Bad
You see, Jen and her family were in Mexico for an extended stay. Jen works in technology and is what she calls “a digital nomad.” All she needs to do her job is WiFi. So in the fall, the Charrette family packed up, left Ridgway, Colorado and began making their way south to Sayulita, Mexico.
The biked along the way, exploring trails together in Utah, Arizona and California. Arriving in Mexico, Randy, Jen’s husband, posted photos of the lovely home they were renting from a Canadian family. They took jungle bike rides, taught their elementary school age son to surf and were living their dream.
The Stuff of Nightmares
And then the worst happened. To help around the house and provide occasional babysitting for their boys, Jen and Randy hired a woman and her teenage daughter on the recommendation of their landlord.
On February 28, the boys were in the care of the daughter when she made a bad decision. She let a man into their walled compound. He was high on something and violent. His girlfriend became scared and locked herself and the Charrette’s older son inside. She left Axel outdoors. The man assaulted him and then threw him into a swimming pool where he drowned.
Both the babysitter and her friend are charged with murder and being prosecuted in Mexico.
Axel Charrette will be remembered tonight at a memorial service in his hometown of Ridgway.
Right before the Charrette family left for the nomadic adventure, they had dinner at our home. We had crossed paths with them numerous times, as both Randy and my husband enjoy the odd pursuit of cyclocross racing. Amazingly, although I’d known Jen for 2 and 1/2 years, this was the first time I met her face to face.
They’re delightful and their boys were simply put, little lights. Full of energy and joy, both boys entertained us while they played in the yard with our dog. Watching them, Jen asked me if I had any advice about how to keep the stronger elder son from inadvertently pushing over the toddling younger son as they ran and played. I didn’t. They were just being brothers, laughing, exploring and happy to be outdoors together.
That night, as they were leaving we spoke of getting together at some point in the future. We wished them well on their journey.
Today, we wish Axel well on his journey. We remember his sturdy little legs, chasing his brother and trying to keep up. We remember his electric smile and his lovely nature.
If You Want To Help
In memory of Axel, a memorial fund has been established at Alpine Bank in Ridgway. The fund will be used to provide bikes for kids who otherwise couldn’t afford them. While donations cannot be made online, they can be mailed to The Axel Charrette Fund, Alpine Bank, 119 Liddell Drive, Ridgway, CO 81432.
The town of Ridgway is also naming a bike trail in Axel’s memory. Maybe someday you’ll ride it. Even if you don’t, hug your own children close today, remember how beautiful life is and say a prayer for Axel and his family.
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