‘He was one of a kind’: Lynus Erickson, killed in motorcycle crash, recalled as talented photographer

  • Lynus Erickson CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Lynus Erickson, 21, of Medford, was killed June 22 in a motorcycle crash. He was a film studies and philosophy student at UMass Amherst and was recently named head photo editor of the student-run newspaper, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/29/2021 5:21:49 PM

AMHERST — Staff at the student-run newspaper at the University of Massachusetts are in mourning after the “devastating loss” of their friend and head photo editor in a motorcycle crash.

On Tuesday, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian published a statement on its website, saying that Lynus Erickson, 21, of Medford, “will truly be missed by all of us.”

Erickson died June 22 in a single-vehicle crash on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston. Massachusetts State Police issued a statement saying that “speed is believed to be a contributing factor.”

A preliminary investigation found that Erickson was riding east at around 12:30 p.m. when his motorcycle “went from the right travel lane to the left travel lane and struck the wall on the left side.”

Erickson was taken to Tufts Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

“The facts and circumstances of the crash remain under investigation,” according to State Police.

Erickson, who majored in film studies and philosophy, was an assistant photo editor at the Collegian from the fall of 2019 through this spring, then was hired as head photo editor for the coming year. The newspaper has posted a gallery of his work on its website, showing Erickson’s eye for athletics, performance art, politics, and candid shots of campus life.

“He was a talented photographer and a joy to be around,” the newspaper said. “Lynus was always willing to learn and improve and always had a smile on his face. Those who knew him will remember his kindness, his sense of humor and his passion for his work.”

An avid year-round hiker, Erickson was a member of the UMass Outing Club. He was laid to rest Monday at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, and in lieu of flowers, his family asked for donations to be made to the Appalachian Mountain Club. So far, donations total nearly $6,100.

“He was increasingly fluent in Japanese. In his ‘prop shop’ he built and painted film-quality replicas of Boba Fett helmets and armor,” reads his obituary. “Throughout his growing years, Lynus loved Thomas the Tank Engine, Ultraman, and building with Lego bricks.”

He leaves his parents, Christian and Shelley Erickson, sister Astrid, also a UMass Amherst student, and brother Asmund.

“Growing up, he would always have his camera with him, even when we were just going to lunch,” said Astrid Erickson. “It was great” going to UMass with her brother, she said, and the two made the dean’s list together last semester.

Shelley Erickson said that the family maintains a strong connection to Japan and their local Japanese community. Her parents are Christian missionaries, and the Erickson family lived in Japan for several years when Lynus was a child. After the 2011 tsunami that killed 16,000 people and caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, the family, including Lynus, went to Japan to help with relief efforts.

From first grade through high school, Lynus attended the Japanese Language School of Greater Boston, a school for expatriates run by the Japanese government. He was so skilled in Japanese that he was admitted as one of only a few non-Japanese natives.

Lynus was in a dual enrollment program in high school, taking classes at Bunker Hill Community College and Harvard Extension School at the same time. After graduation, he took a gap year and worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Boise, Idaho, studying how grazing livestock can reduce wildfire risk.

After Idaho, Lynus traveled “from the southern tip to the northern tip” of Japan, his father said, “hopping from hostel to hostel” to meet new people, go skiing and take photos.

Christian Erickson works for the software company Adobe, famous for products including Photoshop, but Lynus’ love of photography quickly eclipsed his own.

“Compared to Lynus, I’m an amateur,” Christian Erickson said, adding that Lynus had started using a drone to take aerial photos and videos. “On a hike, he’d rather take his lens than take food.”

Shelley Erickson said her son was passionate about the planet and would not eat seafood because of the effects of fishing on the oceans.

She said Lynus preferred to take candid photos of people because “he felt that somehow reflected who they truly were. He was open to all people. He wanted to respect and know people as they were.”

Molly Brooks, Erickson’s girlfriend, said she and Erickson were friends for several years thanks to their connection to the UMass Outing Club and began dating about four months ago. She admired Erickson’s “wonder and enthusiasm,” and his “sense of awe.”

“I was a lot more excited to be alive when I was around him,” said Brooks, 21, of Amherst. “I think we’re all a little angry at what could have been. We’re missing a positive presence in our lives and a really good friend. … We’re missing the support that he was so willing to give.

“He was one of a kind, and I feel really grateful that I got to know him,” she said.

UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said the campus community was deeply saddened by Erickson’s death.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and classmates as we mourn his loss,” Blaguszewski said in a statement.

The family is planning to hold a celebration of life to remember Lynus, but there is no date yet. Christian Erickson said that when Lynus was laid to rest, there was “quite a large turnout” of mourners, and the family wants to plan “a celebration that includes all the different circles that he touched.”

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.
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