When his buddies backed out at the last minute from a second-grade ensemble performance of "Greased Lightning" in their grade school talent show, Trevor Smith took the stage alone, fearlessly sporting the requisite leather jacket and bravado of a star.
Years before his death Friday at age 13, Trevor made his mark as a true character — on stage and off — the kind of kid whose confidence, humor and enthusiasm naturally engaged others and drew them to him, friends said.
His easy acceptance of others, kids of all stripes, also marked him as a rarity in middle school, they said.
"He was just a great, all-around sweet kid," said Shelly Coons, a longtime family friend who watched Trevor grow up.
"That boy was fun," said another family friend and eighth-grade history teacher, Isaac Raya. "I couldn't wait to have him in my class."
But Trevor lived just a few weeks beyond seventh grade at Kenilworth Junior High in Petaluma before his death Friday in a roadside accident outside Ukiah.
Authorities said he was in a group of kids going to a birthday party at Lake Mendocino when his host's pickup ran out of gas on Highway 101. Trevor was among several teens who were pushing the truck to an off-ramp when it gained momentum and he was run over by the boat trailer it was towing.
His mother, Pam Caralli Smith, said Trevor's brothers, both in high school, were "being very strong" about their loss, though their brother left a "void here in our house."
"It's this hole in their family," friend Keith Romstad said.
Trevor was the youngest of the boys born to his hairdresser mom and teacher dad, Joe Smith, a special education teacher in Novato.