Too Young to Die: Mason Hanaway

Photo Courtesy of the Burgess and Hanaway Families

“I guess you thought it would be pretty cool to try to stand and drive your go-kart at the same time, and completely wiped out,” Katrina Burgess said in a eulogy about her son.

Mason Hanaway was a 13-year-old daredevil. When Burgess left Mason with his stepfather for the first time, she returned home to find her son bandaged. The bruises were a result of his attempt at a stunt he saw actors perform on a television show. The thrill-seeker once drove his dirt bike through a fence because he hit the throttle instead of the brake. He loved testing the limits his mother set: she often found food under Mason’s bed and candy wrappers in his pillowcases. He was a fan of Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell movies.

“Anything inappropriate he liked because he knew he could get a reaction out of me by watching that stuff,” Burgess told msnbc. “I don’t know why I argued about it with him because he was going to do it anyway.”

An eighth-grader at Herbert Green Middle School in his hometown of Placerville, Calif., Mason was excited to start high school in the fall. He hoped to customize his 1969 Chevrolet truck–a present from his stepmother–with red paint and rims before he earned his driver’s license in a few years.

He dreamed of eventually becoming a California highway patrolman, a position he used to threaten his mother with when she enforced rules and discipline.

“When I get older and I’m a CHP,” he teased his mother, “I’m going to pull you over and give you a ticket.”

Mason died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 8 at his home in Placerville.

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Too Young to Die

Too Young to Die: Mason Hanaway