SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. – The parents of the 8-year-old boy who died while watching the Baja 500 race are sharing the last moments they had with their son.
Brandon and Melissa Hendriks of San Clemente, California are heartbroken over the loss of their first-born son, but they said they forgive the driver who crashed into him, CEO of Utah based company Vivint, Todd Pedersen
“He had the most gentle heart,” Melissa Hendriks said.
“He often just unprovokedly would climb onto my lap or my wife's, or even his little brother's, and just go up them and give them a huge hug and say, 'I love you so much',” said Brandon Hendriks.
Their son’s young life was cut short during a weekend trip to the Baja 500 off-road race in Ensenada, Mexico.
The couple says they didn’t feel safe along the race route, so they moved to a different spot.
“When we came out under the bridge and saw where the trucks were racing above us, we looked at each other and said, 'We need to get to the other side quickly,'” Melissa Hendriks said.
At the same time, a race truck driven by Pedersen came around a corner, and lost control, hitting Melissa and Xander.
“We started running and it shifted, and we looked, thought: 'It's going to hit me, we've got to run the other way,'" Melissa Hendriks said. "And we ran as fast as we could, but we just couldn't run fast enough."
Xander died from his injuries. Melissa suffered head and leg injuries.
Brandon is a pastor at the Pacific Coast Church in Southern California.
He says his family’s faith has allowed them to forgive Pedersen, who showed up at the hospital to offer his condolences. Right now, they’re focused on helping their two boys heal from Xander’s loss.
“Talk to them about the fact that their brother is in heaven, and that we will probably have to wait for a very long time til we see him again, but that we will see him again, and that’s the hope that carries us through,” Brandon Hendriks said.