NORTHVILLE, Mich. (WXYZ) — In September of 2020, the Duhn family of Northville lost their 20-year-old son Dominic after he was struck by a car during a hit-and-run accident. Since, the family has used the mourning process to find a way to not only honor their son, but bring something special to the community of Northville.
Losing her son Dominic is what Gabriella Duhn calls “a mother’s worst nightmare.” She says that it wasn’t just her family impacted by Dominic’s death.
“Our community was shattered by this,” said Gabriella. With Dominic, it was such a tragedy that we knew we had to do something positive.”
In what started as part of the grieving process, Dominic’s younger brother Enzo and their family friend Jack Talis came up with an idea of building a skate park in Northville in honor of Dominic. Northville doesn’t have a skate park or an area designated for skating, so the family saw it as a safety issue. The site of the new park will be at Millennium Park. It has plenty of parking already provided, it’s directly across from Northville High School, and the best part, according to Gabriella, is that the fire station is immediately next to it.
“They always hung out here,” said Gabriella. “When this spot was offered we thought it was perfect. The fire station is what makes it so amazing, God forbid there should ever be an accident.”
The family is floored by the support the skate park has received so far. Through family, friends, and members of the community, over 200 thousand dollars has been raised through various events and donations. The township of Northville has provided 150 thousand dollars, as well as the land at Millennium Park. Enzo, younger brother of Dominic, says the support shown for his brother means a lot to their family.
“We’re keeping his memory alive,” said Enzo. “I don’t want him to be forgotten.”
The skate park project is getting attention outside of just Northville or Metro Detroit. It’s even garnered the attention of skateboarding’s greatest athlete, Tony Hawk.
Tony Hawk is in support of a project in Northville: a skate park in honor of Dominic Duhn, 20-year old skateboarder who was killed by a hit-and-run driver.— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) February 9, 2022
Dominic's family told me how the grieving process has turned into something beautiful. Tonight at 5:15 on @wxyzdetroit. pic.twitter.com/KCaNaOWrEO
“Dominic’s legacy is that you now have a place that you can feel safe,” said Hawk. “A space that you can feel a sense of belonging and a sense of community.”
Jack, Dominic’s childhood friend, said he isn’t surprised by the amount of support or attention that Dominic has received because that was just the type of person he was. Dominic was described as welcoming and someone who “brought people together.”
“Dom was that guy, I wouldn’t say that if he wasn’t,” said Talis. “He deserves to have people behind his name.
I hope people use the skate park. I want kids to come, I want family members to come, I want it to be more than a skate park, but a gathering place for kids to hang out.”
Enzo added, “I think he would be really proud, it’s not just for him, it’s for everybody else.”
When looking at the space, Gabriella says she hopes they will break ground in the summer of 2022. She added a big emphasis of the skate park is to provide an outlet for kids dealing with mental health issues. She believes that the pandemic has given a lot of kids challenges, but a skate park could help alleviate some of those problems. The Duhn family thinks 2022 would be a perfect time to provide the people of Northville a safe place to socialize.
“I feel like God is guiding me, Dominic is driving me, and all the angels on earth are helping me.”
The Duhn family is holding a craft beer festival at the site of the future skate park on May 21st. The event will invite adults, teenagers, and children with a range of activities, plus food trucks, music, and skate ramps. The family is accepting donations that will go towards the construction of the skate park.