SEATTLE - A young man full of life and creativity—that’s how family and friends will remember Xavier Gaytan. The 14-year-old was hit and killed by the Seattle Center Monorail Sunday night.
"He was received as such a kind, loving, generous, funny, goofy, creative, fun, vibrant, fearless young man," said Allison Gardner, Xavier’s mother.
Seattle Police said Xavier climbed to the roof of a downtown building at Fifth and Denny Way. He was spray-painting graffiti near the monorail tracks when he was hit and killed.
"The news was so deeply painful and shocking, it’s not even something I can really describe," said Gardner. "He had a passion and a desire to do something. And unfortunately, he really just didn’t think it through."
Xavier, her youngest child, was a talented artist. The risks involved with graffiti, however, was a conversation Gardner said she often had with her son.
"Even though he was warned many times of the dangers and illegality of doing graffiti on the street, like most teenagers, I don’t think he fully grasped the reality or the danger of that," said Gardner. "I think any parent can relate to… we will do anything to keep our kids safe. And the hard part is, the older we get, the more we have to let them have freedom and explore, and we don’t always have them under our watch."
"He loved fashion. And so, that was something that he was wanting to explore up here in Seattle. He was doing an internship for a local company. He was learning how to screen print. So, he was just at the beginning of kind of figuring out what he loves and maybe what he could do with that as far as furthering his education and career."
A bright future cut short. To prevent another young life lost, Gardner said she wants to encourage communities to offer opportunities for street artists to have an outlet.
"This art form has been around for decades and I don’t think it’s going away. So, perhaps, what needs to change is providing more safe spaces for kids to pursue this art form," said Gardner.
It’s an art form that fueled Xavier’s passion, even in his final moments.
"Most of us get an opportunity to grow up and learn from our mistakes. And in this case, the real tragedy is that he doesn’t have that opportunity," said Gardner.
The mother started a fundraiser to help cover funeral and memorial costs. Supporters can donate on the verified GoFundMe page.
This is the first death connected to the monorail in its more than 60 years of operation.