ORANGEVALE (CBS13) — A Sacramento State University student died in a tragic snowboarding accident at Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort near Lake Tahoe.

David Karlin, 23, had big dreams to become a lawyer. While his life was cut short, his parents say the impact he’s left is remarkable.

“I’ve looked up to your son so much,” was one of dozens of messages Karlin’s mother Colleen has received.

She says since his passing on Thursday, an outpouring of messages have flooded in from friends, classmates and people she’s never met but who David believed in and encouraged.

“They want to do better now because they know how much David saw in them. David always saw that diamond in the rough, that kid that needed love,” said Colleen.

“I was so proud of him,” said his father, Larry.

In his short 23 years of life, David played football at Casa Roble High School in Orangevale and was committed to his studies at Sacramento State.

But his parents say his gift was empathy; the kind of person who would walk up and share hugs with the homeless.

“He’s just got his arms around them and praying for them,” said Colleen.

For his mom, David was her main protector.

“He was always telling me to be strong, I’ve been through a lot in life, a lot of surgeries. And raising kids when you have such an outward issue, he was always like “don’t worry about it, don’t worry about them,”

On Thursday, David took his last picture on a ski lift with his best friend, Tony Gonzalez. And video was taken of him snowboarding that day making his way down the mountain.

But shortly later, officials at the resort say David lost control of the hill, moving fast and going off the trail, and crashed into a snow fence. He wasn’t wearing a helmet.

“He was an experienced snowboarder. He wasn’t reckless,” said his mother.

A young man with a bright future whose presence is sorely missed by so many.

“You know when my dad died, I wanted to have one more conversation with him, just one more. And now, I want my David back, I want him back,” said Colleen.

David leaves behind two siblings.

For those who wish to celebrate his life, the family is holding a candlelight vigil on Saturday in front of Casa Roble High School.

They’ve also started a Gofundme page for those who wish to help the family, visit: