He was a teen who lived life in the moment, kept wit at the tip of his tongue, and found his thrills in the abundance of nature surrounding him.
Friends of Jonathan Bruce are still in shock two days after the youth was found dead at the Fort St. John Motocross Track on Sunday. He was 16.
"A lot of people are taking it hard," said Quintin Helm, who grew up with Bruce since the two first met in elementary school in Charlie Lake.
On Tuesday afternoon, the motocross track remained at the forefront of a police probe into Bruce's death, as half a dozen officers scoured the snow-covered grounds for clues in what could turn out to be the city's second homicide of the year.
An autopsy has yet to be conducted to determine a cause of death, but RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said the death remains suspicious. Local officers, along with the North District Major Crime Unit, continue to investigate, she said.
"We're in the early stages of the investigation, so we have to wait for more information, and what's unveiled over the next few days, before we determine if it's a homicide or not," said Shelkie. "There are many officers working extremely hard to determine what happened to this youth."
Outside of the North Peace Secondary School on Tuesday, Helm and another childhood friend, Jordan Stoney, remembered Bruce as a popular student with few enemies inside the hallways.
"He was always smiling, always making jokes. He wasn't the type to get mad," said Stoney.
"You could mess with him and he'd be the type to mess back. You could call him names, and he'd call you one right back, and life would go on," added Helm.
Bruce was attached to his dirt bike, and when he wasn't competing, rode it to school often, Stoney said. He liked working on cars, and thought about being a mechanic.
"He was just living life in the moment," said Helm.
Bruce was also an avid snowboarder, Stoney said, and the two of them had planned to go snowboarding down the peaks of Powder King this winter.
"I was looking forward to going with him," said Stoney.
School District 60 Superintendent Dave Sloan confirmed Bruce was a student at North Peace, but dropped out earlier this year. Sloan said grief counsellors were available to staff and students throughout the district on Tuesday.
"It's always a sad thing when we have a young person pass away before their time," said Sloan. "We need to support those left behind who knew him and are obviously affected by his passing.
"These are difficult times for everyone," he said.
Michael Rouble, president of the Fort St. John Motocross Club, said an ATV and skidoo instructor found Bruce's body on Nov. 24 while checking snow conditions at the track in preparation of a series of courses this week.
The track is usually closed to the public in the winter, though it is sometimes made available to club members or instructors for special activities, Rouble said.
"I couldn't believe it at first. I thought the guy was joking with me. But I was very concerned. It's a shock," said Rouble. "My condolences and my wishes go out to the family."
Rouble didn't know Bruce, and couldn't immediately say whether he belonged to the club, which has around 100 members. Still, the track remains a regular target for vandals and trespassers, and members often forget to lock the gates when they leave, Rouble said.
"Our facility is normally a fun place to use respectfully. I'm shocked and my condolences and my wishes go out to the family," he said.
Bruce's family could not be reached for comment.
RCMP are looking for anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity at the track on Saturday night or Sunday morning. Anyone with information is asked to call Fort St. John RCMP at 250-787-8140, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.