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Saratoga Springs mourns the loss of Connor LaFrance

A community is mourning the loss of a young man who lived fast and died doing what he loved.

Connor LaFrance, a 14-year-old student at the Maple Avenue Middle School and a nationally ranked motocross racer, died Sept. 21 from injuries sustained in an Alabama motorcycle accident. LaFrance was a national class dirt bike racer and was practice-driving in Barber Motorsports Park at 11:15 a.m. when his motorcycle went out of control. He was airlifted to a hospital and pronounced dead at 5:37 p.m.

LaFrance's parents joined Saratoga Springs School officials Monday, Sept. 24 to remember his life.

He wasn't happy unless he was going 100 miles-per-hour, said his mother, Andrea LaFrance.

Connor began riding motorcycles at age 5, said his father, Dave LaFrance. Dave, a motorcycle racer himself, said he didn't let Connor compete until last year.

"I wanted to make sure he wanted to race for himself, and not for me," he said.

Connor's parents reflected on his time spent racing, saying it was all he wanted to do since he was young. Dave LaFrance said he found a scrap of paper from when Connor was in the first grade. On it was written: "I want to be the best motocross racer in the world. I want to be the fastest."

Dave LaFrance said there was some consolation in knowing that his son perished doing what he loved.

"It's a dangerous sport," he said. "But I really believe that when it's God's time to take you, He's going to take you."

William Boehmke, Maple Avenue Middle School's student advocate, said about 100 students were gathered in the school's library Monday morning, waiting to see counselors to cope with the loss of their fellow student and friend.

"There is always a balance between letting the kids support each other and having them stir themselves up," he said of the gathering.

Many students are wearing buttons, shirts and other articles of clothing with remembrances of Connor on them, said Boehmke, and large pieces of paper have been posted throughout Saratoga Springs' schools for students to write their memories of Connor and their condolences to his family.

"This really affects the whole community," said Boehmke.

Calling hours will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Presbyterian New England Congregational Church at 24 Circular St. in Saratoga Springs. Services will be 2 p.m. Thursday at Bethesda Episcopal Church, 41 Washington St. Saratoga Springs.

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