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Friends, family members hope to honor local skateboarder at Watertown’s skate park


Daniel A. Louise’s family marveled at the things he could do on a skateboard.

He and friend Robert J. Finn enjoyed much of their time together at the city of Watertown’s skateboard park at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. The 21-year-old skateboarder mastered all kinds of tricks, while Mr. Finn held impromptu competitions at the skate park.

Those good times ended May 15 when Daniel, a former Watertown High School student, died in an accident on Route 12 in the town of Rutland when his car went off the road and hit a tree. Since then, his family is learning more about his skating ability and how popular he was in the skateboard community.

“I think it’s the first time they’ve lost someone of their own age,” said his father, Anthony M. Louise. “They are very close.”

To honor his friend and help the skating community get through the tragedy, Mr. Finn wants to place a bench at the skateboard park, where the two spent so much time together.

“Everyone knew him,” he said.

Friends and family members plan an event Aug. 18 at the skate park to raise enough money to pay for the bench and place on it a plaque with their friend’s name. Daniel’s mother, Christina Wasniski, Clifton Park, is buying T-shirts to sell and a skateboard to raffle off that day.

Since the crash, his family has met more of his friends. They were surprised by the number of skaters who attended calling hours for him, said sister Lauren. They showed up with a skateboard signed by all of them. Since then, several friends have gotten tattoos featuring a shiny crown with different colored jewels and featuring the words “Long Live the King,” a nickname that came from the character “Hyde” on the sitcom “That ’70s Show.”

“He was always doing something that was funny that made people laugh,” his sister said.

Like the time they were at a Laundromat and he jumped into a clothes dryer, she recalled. The dryer “was so hot in there,” and it kept going round and round, she said with a little laugh.

He often took the family dog, Toby, a mixed chocolate Lab, on walks while he skateboarded, his father said.

“The dog towed him all over the neighborhood,” Mr. Louise said.

Starting the activity when he was a pupil at H.T. Wiley Intermediate School, Daniel got to be so proficient at skateboarding that family members were amazed at the tricks and antics he could pull off on a board, Anthony Louise said. One time a few years ago, he was with Daniel and Lauren at Thompson Park when Daniel decided he did not want a ride home — of course, he wanted to skateboard, Mr. Louise said. But the hilly park roads didn’t deter him. He jumped onto his board and away he went, speeding along the winding roads to their Franklin Street home. And he didn’t have the slightest mishap doing it, either, Mr. Louise recalled.

“He made it look so easy,” his father said. “We have video of him doing it.”

Noting it was a nice way to honor the skateboarder, Parks and Recreation Superintendent Erin E. Gardner agreed to allow the fundraiser at the park and for family members to place a bench there. It’s something other families have done for loved ones in other parks, she said.

Besides skateboarding, Daniel loved to fish, snowboard and just about anything outdoors, his family and friends said. They said he also loved to do anything that was physically challenging.

Mr. Finn got to know Daniel when they attended school together, but their friendship blossomed with their mutual interest of skateboarding. Both his friends and family members described Daniel as a sensitive young man who went out of his way to make sure he did not hurt anyone’s feelings.

When he was still in high school, however, he found it difficult to focus on school and dropped out. It was a mistake he regretted, and he finally got his diploma and was turning his life around when the accident happened, Mr. Finn said. Daniel planned to attend Jefferson Community College in the fall.

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