EDMOND — Eight-year-old Aidan James Hooper was remembered Monday by family, friends and fellow taekwondo students during funeral services at Oklahoma City's NorthChurch, where he had been baptized.
Aidan was killed Thursday at the conclusion of Edmond's LibertyFest parade. He was run over by one of the wheels on the ATA Karate and Life Skills Training Center float on which he had been riding.
His father, Quinton Hooper, 44, was driving the float, police said.
Quinton Hooper stood during the funeral, turned and bowed to the group of taekwondo athletes sitting together dressed in their white uniforms. In return, they stood and bowed to the grieving father.
Family members said Aidan, who they called Bubba, was full of unbridled energy, curiosity and compassion for others. They said Aidan had a tender, caring heart.
Aidan loved sports; basketball and taekwondo were his favorite. He was a big Oklahoma State University football fan who loved to go to the games.
“We are devastated about the loss of our precious Aidan,” family members said in a statement released by officials at Deer Creek Public School.
“We thank everyone for their outpouring of love, but please ask for privacy as we grieve our child.”
Aidan completed the second grade at Grove Valley Elementary in May.
Classmate Bryson Rouse wrote in a memorial message to the family that Aidan was a good reader, who told lots of jokes and was funny.
Rouse said Aidan told him his father was a hero and had helped people in the tornado.
Aidan was spending his summer with 80 other students, ages 5 to 12, at the YMCA day camp in Edmond. Camp leaders attended the funeral wearing their camp T-shirts.
Counselors were brought to the YMCA after the accident to provide help, said Mike Roark, Edmond YMCA executive director.
“It is a long process,” Roark said. “We will continue to work on it.”
Deer Creek officials also are offering assistance and support to the family and the community of parents, teachers and students.
The school's Health and Wellness program and counselors are available to assist with grief counseling and community counseling resources.
Anyone in need of help or support can call 348-6100, ext. 1138.
“Deer Creek is horribly saddened by the tragic loss ... of one our students,” school district spokeswoman Lenis DeRieux said in a statement. “We offer our deepest condolences to the Hooper family and their friends.”
The accident happened as the float was returning to the staging area near Ayers Street and Bauman Avenue.
Aidan either fell or jumped off the float and was run over by one of the wheels, police said.
This is the first time in the 41-year history of the Fourth of July LibertyFest parade that there has been anything other than a minor injury, said Robby Allen, the 2013 LibertyFest president.
“It was just a fluke accident, a tragic accident,” Allen said. “It is just a sad thing, and our prayers are with his family and his friends.”
The accident hit close to home for Allen. He and his 8-year-old son were just seven entries in front of the float Aidan was riding.
“I went home and pulled my kids out of the pool and gave them hugs before I went to work,” Allen said. “All of the volunteers are shocked and sadden. Most of them are parents and grandparents. They can't imagine being in that situation.”
Aidan's family members want to add a memorial bench in Aidan's name at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Donations can be sent to Aidan Hooper Benefit at Valliance Bank, 1601 Northwest Expressway, Suite 100, Oklahoma City, OK 73118.