Family and friends gather at Mission Hills Church in Mission Viejo. (Micah Brown)
Light rain greeted friends and family who gathered to mourn the loss of Saddleback College student Alexander Hugard on Friday afternoon at Mission Hills Church in Mission Viejo.
Hugard, 19, was killed in an automobile accident that also claimed the life of fellow Saddleback student Andrew Gorum in the early morning of Sunday, Feb. 8.
Hugard’s memorial service took place Friday at 2 p.m. immediately following a public viewing. Dozens of friends came to pay Hugard their last respects and reflect on their greatest memories with him.
“We’d always just be laughing and cracking jokes, just enjoying life,” said an emotional Sean Knipps, 19, a friend of Hugard’s since middle school.
Starr Hashemi, 17, one of Hugard’s classmates from Mission Viejo High School, had similar fond memories. “He was such a goofball, he would tell you one thing and then do the other, just to make you laugh.”
Hashemi and Knipps, along with many of Hugard’s other friends, wore pajama pants in his honor.
“He wouldn’t leave the house without gel in his hair, but he would go out in his pajamas,” said Jenni Dolan, 17, of Mission Viejo, explaining the reasoning behind the tribute. “It’s what he would’ve wanted.”
Enlarged photos of Hugard swimming with his beloved pet beagle, Snoopy, were displayed in the church and covered with written sentiments and signatures from his friends and family.
Hugard’s father, James, spoke of the son he had grown to know so well over the past 19 years, and expressed how even that much time was not enough to learn everything about him. “After speaking with his close friends these last couple of days, (we) have grown to discover that he was very much indeed the son that we had tried to raise all these years,” James Hugard said of his son. “He was moral, caring, and compassionate, and above all else, happy with himself and enjoying life.”
One of the central messages of the memorial service, spoken by Pastor Doug Boyd, was a celebration of Hugard’s life, flawless character, and the joy he brought to so many others.
Daryl Davis, 19, automotive, told of the times Hugard was a comfort to his friends. “Whenever you were sad, he could always make you laugh, he could always make you feel better.”
“He was the type of guy you could confide in and feel safe,” said Christian Moss, 17, computer science. “If you had a problem, he would try and give you advice to make it through . . . (he was) always cheerful and always a pleasure to have around.”
Hugard’s life, though brief, had a strong and positive impact on all who had the privilege of his acquaintance, and family seemed to be at the center of it all.
Perhaps Moss described Hugard’s strong family ties best. “He loved his parents. I could tell by the way he only ever mentioned them to me in a positive light.”