Lake Oswego mom loses husband, 3 kids in deadly plane crash
April Fredrickson remembers the look on her youngest child's face when the 11-year-old was placed in the front seat of the seaplane next to the pilot, completely in awe of the plane's controls.
"The look on his face was just incredible. He's like the daredevil of the family," said April, adding that when the family went rafting he was out in front. "He was just really in heaven and so excited."
As she watched her family put on their headphones and take their seats on the seaplane, she didn't think it would be the last hug, the last photograph and the last glimpse she'd take of her family alive.
April and her husband Sean, 48, his son Hayden, 16, and April's two children, 15-year-old Sofie Olsen, and 11-year-old Quinn Olsen, were on a family vacation in Idaho over the weekend of July 4. Sean worked as the Head Golf Pro at Oswego Lake Country Club for the last year and was heavily involved in the golfing industry, so April said it was the first time they had traveled during summer — a busy time for golfers.
"He really just needed time away and time to decompress — he actually made it happen," April recalled.
The family first decided to go to Spokane to visit Sean's mom before celebrating the Fourth of July and heading to Coeur d'Alene Lake in Idaho July 5.
The family settled on a sightseeing plane ride, though April had been on a seaplane before and opted out of the excursion.
"They were all really excited about the plane," she said. "It's not something you do every day … My husband always tried to do stuff like that with the kids. He didn't really care about money, he just would go all out … and just to give them the best."
April remembers trying to give the family a group hug as they boarded the plane, but everyone was excited and not paying attention.
"It was me hugging everyones' backs," April said. "I'm not going to say I knew, but there's always that fear when you send your entire family on something that risky like that."
The four Lake Oswego family members never returned.
The Brooks Seaplane, which carried the four family members, a pilot and another passenger, collided with another plane — a Cessna 206 that was carrying two people — and crashed into Idaho's Coeur d'Alene Lake that afternoon.
Authorities said there were eight victims and no survivors.
The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office Sonar Team located the planes in 124 feet of water. The cause of the crash is unknown at this time.
April remembers waiting for far too long and walking to get ice cream, but when she returned, she saw a sheriff who had April confirm it was indeed her family that was on one of the planes.
"She made me go through who was on the plane: their names and their birthdates before she told me anything," April recalled. "I was just standing there shaking."
But when authorities mentioned a collision had happened and they hadn't found the bodies, she knew her family was dead.
"I wanted finality but I didn't really think that I was going to get some good news," she recalled.
A ripple effect
Sean and his children's death had a ripple effect throughout the golf community and beyond.
"The loss of Sean Fredrickson and his children Hayden, Sofie and Quinn is devastating. Sean was an exceptional Golf Professional who was awarded the PGA Professional of the Year honor in 2019 by the Oregon Golf Association," read a statement provided by the Oswego Lake Country Club. "Oswego Lake Country Club was honored to have him as a member of our family. His positive spirit and joy for the game of golf was contagious.
"But more importantly, Sean was a tremendous husband, father and friend. Our love and heartfelt sympathy goes to his wife April, his family and friends during this time of loss."
Bryan Fisher, general manager at Oswego Lake Country Club, said he worked with Sean at the club since Sean began his job there about a year ago. But he's also known him as a friend in the golf industry for about 20 years.
And Fisher says Sean's personality was "off the chart."
"He's the full package," Fisher said. "Warm and gracious … Very caring, always puts other people first."
Fisher said the outpouring from the community has been wonderful.
"I've never experienced anything like it," he said. "People I haven't talked to in a number of years are reaching out."
Fisher added that golf professionals from other states who knew Sean have also been calling.
"He was really big with the Pacific Northwest Golf Association Section," Fisher said.
"A rising star in the PGA, Sean led the Section through an unprecedented time, first taking the reigns a year early as President and then leading us wisely through this pandemic. We are all better because of Sean's leadership over the past twelve years," read a statement released by the Pacific Northwest Section PGA. "Many of you have mentioned Sean's mentorship in your posts. Mentorship was a passion of Sean's, creating our mentoring committee and our early mentoring conferences. His passion to help many of you was driven by his genuine desire to serve his fellow PGA Professionals."
Shelby Hunt, one of the assistant golf professionals at Oswego Lake Country Club who worked with Sean, set up a memorial outside of the facility.
People have placed photographs, flowers and unique items — and it's grown every day.
Hunt said she has been an assistant golf pro of Sean's for the last six years. They met during a tournament, where she played against him during her senior year of high school in 2014.
"He was super sweet. He told me if I beat him that day he would offer me a job," Hunt said.
She worked with him in Tualatin for five years before transferring to Lake Oswego.
"He was my PGA mentor. When I started working for him I was going to college to do physical therapy and he just, every year, would beg me to stay and golf and tell me to give golf a chance," Hunt recalled. "He wanted me to be better than him some day … It's been some of the best years of my life working with him."
Hunt said Sean would always talk about making "golf cool again," and that he was setting trends while trying to engage youth.
"His legacy is not going to be forgotten," said Hunt, who also used to nanny Sean's children. She added "they definitely are kids that will make an impression on you."
Fisher said Sean was also passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as providing opportunities in golf for underprivileged children.
"We're looking forward to recognizing and honoring Sean and the legacy he left within the golf community," Fisher said.
The golf community has also been having discussions about possibly creating a GoFundMe account to raise money for a program or some sort of opportunity for underprivileged children to have access to golf, according to Fisher.
"I hope this is going to be a really big platform for honoring him," Fisher said.
Remembering the family
People have described Sean as kind, caring and a mentor.
"He was (also) a joker. I don't know if anyone knows that about him but he loved to wrestle with the kids, he loved to have pillow fights with the kids, he tormented our poor dogs trying to be funny," said April, adding that he would put their yorkie on top of cabinets for fun and wear their labradoodle like a scarf around his shoulders. "He was funny and kind and caring, and being in his business he was all about taking care of people."
April described Hayden — who attended school in Newberg where his mother resides — as "incredibly bright." She said he was very talented at soccer — a sport Sean played and was also passionate about.
"He did not give me any trouble at all. He was just so polite," she said.
Her daughter Sofie, on the other hand, "loved to push the envelope," said April, with a laugh.
Sofie attended Lake Oswego High School and played lacrosse. She also worked at StarCycle.
"I'm very proud of her and the person she was becoming. She was just kind of getting her independence," said April, adding that Sofie had the chance to drive her new car and experience love with her boyfriend.
Quinn, April's youngest, had just graduated fifth grade at Lake Grove Elementary. He played soccer and basketball but said he was always very clumsy. His true passion was connecting with friends through Xbox.
"I have such mixed feelings about video games but at the end of the day all of the kids, that's how they're connecting," April said.
As a family, they loved visiting Sunriver, Black Butte and traveling elsewhere when it didn't interfere with the golf season.
"We really tried to give our children the gift of music," April said.
They attended concerts and always listened to music in the car.
After learning of the tragedy, Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Lora de la Cruz sent a message to families.
"We are stunned and heartbroken, and share in the sorrow of our community. If you or someone you know needs support during this time, please access the resources
about grief posted on losdschools.org. Or, contact the 24/7 Clackamas County Crisis Support Line at 503-655-8585," de la Cruz said in the message. "Our condolences to the family and all in our community who have been touched by this tragic loss of life."
Lake Oswego High Principal Rollin Dickinson also reached out to families to tell them the school community's thoughts are with Sofie's family, friends, students and staff.
"It is difficult to understand this profound loss, and the range of emotions is wide and shifting, but please know that we as a community are here to help support each other," Dickinson said in a message to families. "Our students in ASB are encouraging people to write letters to share their memories and thoughts, process their emotions, and offer condolences to Sofie's family. If you would like to write a letter, you can mail it to our school address; drop it off at the front of our school on Saturday, July 11th, between 1:00 and 2:00 in a drive-by fashion; or email it to me and I will print it out and include it with the other letters. We will then deliver the letters to Sofie's family."
"I just want people to know that my children were so happy when they died," April said. "They didn't know what happened, it was so instantaneous; they were doing something they loved; they were experiencing life and I know it's tragic, but I hope that we can find the silver lining and I think the silver lining is we all need to be kind and we all need to be nice to each other."
Reporter Asia Alvarez Zeller contributed to this story.
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