LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Family members and friends of a man killed in a plane crash on September 26 say they want to honor his legacy of helping homeless youth.
Eric Page, 29, died when the plane he was riding in crashed in the rugged mountains of northern New Mexico. Page and his pilot friend, Nicolas Peterson, had flown to Santa Fe. They were on their way home when the plane crashed near Cowles, New Mexico.
"He was such a special person," said Brian Murphy, a longtime family friend. "He always had a smile."
Murphy told Denver7 that he first met Page when he started hanging out with Page's older brother, back in grade school.
"He became my little brother," Murphy said. "He drove me crazy, but my goodness, reflecting back on it now, I loved every minute of it."
Murphy said he is grateful for the friendship.
He said he hit a rough patch two years ago, when his marriage ended in divorce. He had to look for another place to live.
"Eric said, 'Come over and look at my place, I'm looking for a roommate,'" Murphy said.
"I knew he was a special person, and over the last two years, I really got to see just how great he was," Murphy said. "It was so amazing, I'm grateful."
Murphy said Page loved to travel and loved to experience life.
"He traveled all over the place. He went hiking with a friend through Europe," he said. "He planned to go to Japan."
Like many of those who knew Page, Murphy changed his profile picture after learning about the fatal plane crash.
He posted one of Eric that he had snapped at a Rapids game.
"He just wanted to live and I'm the opposite. I'm like, I'm going to stay in tonight, and he was like, "let's just go, let's go!"
Murphy said they had front row seats and had a blast.
Helping Homeless Youth
Murphy said his longtime friend and recent roommate was a very giving person, and was very committed to helping homeless youth.
Cheryl Janes, another friend of the family, told Denver7 that Page's commitment to homeless youth began when he was a teenager.
"I think it was an uncle who started going downtown to hand out sandwiches and blankets to the homeless, on Thanksgiving," she said. "He asked Eric to come along."
"Eric was a little reluctant at first, being in high school, spending Thanksgiving Day downtown, but at the end of the day, he was profoundly impacted," Janes said.
She recounted how a young teenage boy, about Eric's age, came up and asked, "Hey, you got a blanket, I'm cold."
Janes said they had handed out all the blankets they had, so Eric ran to the family car, grabbed his aunt's blanket, then ran back and gave it to the teenager.
"He went home and told his mom, 'I am so thankful that I have a family who loves me, and I have a warm house, and I don't have to be out there afraid of the cold,'" she said.
Janes said from that point on, Eric was the first one onboard to go downtown.
"He started collecting backpacks and putting toothpaste, deodorant and socks inside," she said. "He would look for teens and make sure he gave them out to homeless teenagers."
Janes said there was an instance where Eric came upon a teenager who ended up in Denver after running away from home.
"He wanted to go back home, but had no way to get there," she said, "so Eric went to his parents and told them they needed to help. They bought him a bus ticket, and gave him some money and food."
She said that young man stayed in touch with Eric for about three years.
"He was so thankful that Eric was able to get him home," she said.
Now, the family is honoring Eric by continuing his legacy.
"They want to call it The Eric Project," Janes said.
They're asking people to donate a backpack with a blanket and personal hygiene items for homeless youth.
Among the items needed:
- Travel size toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant
- Water bottles
- Knit hats
- Feminine products
- Non-perishable snacks
- Bus passes
- Flash drives
- Flip flops - L or XL only
- Ear buds
- Fast food gift cards
- Hand warmers
- Sleeping bags
- Money to purchase items
Those donated items can be dropped off at the following locations:
- Waterstone Church - 5890 South Alkire Street. Littleton, CO 80127
- Proctor Acupuncture - 9083 W. Peakview Dr. Unit 5, Litttleton, CO 80123.
- Metro Volunteer Lawyers- 1905 Sherman Street Ste 400, Denver, CO 80203
- Mountainview Community Church - 40 East Highlands Ranch Parkway, Highland Ranch, CO 80126
- King Soopers - 1173 Bergen Parkway, Evergreen, CO 80439
Ms. Janes said, at the end of the year, the items will be given to Urban Peak for distribution to homeless youth.