FELLSMERE, Fla. - FELLSMERE — Racing his dirt bike thrilled Paul Hagenmaier of Vero Lake Estates like few other activities, his mother said Wednesday.
"You could see the adrenaline in him," Lori Griggs-Gjiki said about her 15-year-old son who died after a jump at MESA Park in Fellsmere Sunday. "He loved the track."
The mile-long dirt track was where hundreds of Hagenmaier's friends gathered Wednesday night, the first of two memorials at MESA for the teenager. Paul's friends and family planted candles and roses on a part of the track. Some teenagers flipped through a photo album, with the nearby candles providing the light.
The dirt track was one of Paul's favorite places to go, but it wasn't the only place he exuded enthusiasm. When he walked the halls of Sebastian River High School , the sophomore shared either a funny line or a positive word.
"He was always cheering people up," said schoolmate Justin Morton, 15. "Even if he didn't feel well, he wanted other people to feel good."
At 6-feet, 2-inches tall, Paul had a couple of ways of standing out, his mother said.
"Some people thought he was an adult," Griggs-Gjiki said. "He may be big, but he was still my baby boy."
Paul's family moved to Indian River County from Arizona a couple of years ago, she said. He had always enjoyed outdoor activities, but discovered dirt bike racing after the move, she said. He and his friend Brad Fucci would hit the track at MESA Park about once a week, she said.
"Of course, I was scared" about Paul taking up the hobby, Griggs-Gjiki said. "I always made sure he wore his helmet, even in the summer when it was hot. I wanted to let him do what he enjoyed."
Paul landed on his bike at the end of a jump about 2 p.m. Sunday, she said. He suffered bleeding from internal injuries, physicians at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne told her. He died at 1 a.m. Monday.
The family is scheduling the second memorial service at MESA Park Saturday. Hagenmaier's mother said her son will be cremated, and she wants to scatter his ashes at the track. Griggs-Gjiki said staff at MESA Park and students and administration at SRHS had been very supportive of her family since Paul's death.
At SRHS, an account has been set up for donations for the family, said Dr. Lillian Torres-Martinez, director of student services for the Indian River County School District. Letters to the family is being collected, and the yearbook staff is preparing a two-page dedication to Paul for the 2013 edition, she said.
"They've made this a community event," she said.