I can't even imagine your pain and sorrow right now but please know that my heart and thoughts are with you. I hope that all these wonderful stories about Austin bring you some measure of solace.
As Charlotte Casey already mentioned, an enduring image of Austin for the Albuquerque Academy community is him charging up the path with his backpack in tow. I remember when I first saw him, he was brand new to the school in sixth grade, and I remember thinking "when did they start admitting third graders?" But it didn't take me long to discover that although he was small in stature, he was an intellectual giant.
This revelation first came later that school year when Austin and his teammates Ari, Ben and Ryan were crushing their much older competition at the New Mexico Regional Science Bowl Middle School Tournament. All four members of the team were exceptionally strong but Austin would ocassionally go on these runs where he would answer question after question correctly and just lock out the other team.
The team's astonishing prowess culminated when they placed second in the National Science Bowl Tournament in 2006. They came home with this giant trophy that I am certain was taller than Austin was at the time.
Although I never had the opportunity to teach Austin in the classroom, I continued to interact with him throughout his Academy tenure through Science Bowl and Science Olympiad. What shone through in all those years was his deep love of science. Good scientists must have a keen analytical mind, a burning curiosity, sharp observational skills and a passion to understand the natural world around them. Austin had all these attributes in spades. He was the kind of young man who genuinely enjoyed getting advanced science texts as birthday and Christmas gifts. He would often ask me questions about all aspects of chemistry that would keep me on my toes, requiring careful thought and ocassionaly additional research to answer properly. He inspired me to be a better science teacher.
Austin was serious about science, but he was also fun-loving, kind-hearted, humble and a good friend to many. He loved competition, whether in a tight science bowl match or in a killer game of Scrabble. He was always helpful and willing to lend a hand in any endeavor. Austin and his science bowl teammates spent many after school hours helping to train the next generation of science bowl competitors for Albuquerque Academy. I guess it worked because an Academy middle school team took down the national championship in 2010.
I have no doubt that Austin would have made outstanding contributions in science and that he would have continued to be a wonderful human being. His death is a tremendous loss to family, friends and community. He will be sorely missed.