Lance Cpl. Malik Baxter, a 2013 Riverhead High School graduate, had a dream to someday open up his own motorcycle repair shop.
The 20-year-old with a “quirky sense of humor” who participated in the Riverhead NJROTC program got a sense of freedom from riding his bike that nothing else gave him, his father Willie Baxter said on Saturday morning.
“Just cruising around and enjoying himself on it — he just loved that,” he said.
But Malik’s dream was dashed this past week when the Marine stationed in Honolulu was killed in a high-speed motorcycle crash while driving his 2015 Suzuki GSXR motorcycle on Sand Island.
Police are still investigating the crash, though according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, speed was a factor as Malik was driving around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. He lost control of the bike while negotiating a curve and struck a fence and a light pole, suffering blunt force trauma.
He later succumbed to his injuries at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, according to the report.
The 20-year-old was wearing protective gear at the time of the crash, his father said. While Malik had been warned about riding too fast at times — particularly by his mother, Lorraine — the family, which now lives in Coram after living for several years on Old Quogue Road in Riverside, takes at least some comfort that he died doing what he loved.
“To me, I’d rather he go — well, I’d rather he not go — but now that he’s gone, I’m glad he went doing something he loved,” Willie Baxter said. “It’s not like he was overseas ducking gunfire or anything like that. He was with a group of people who loved him, riding.”
The young Marine came from a family that had a past of military service. Malik’s father served 10 years in the Army, his grandfather served in Vietnam and his great-grandfather served in World War I.
Malik’s family members — of which there are many — remembered the fifth of their seven siblings as someone who was “loved by everyone,” with a sense of humor that left nobody off limits. Anyone was fair game for a wedgie, teasing, or a good old fashioned scaring. His older brother, Darnell Austin, recalled trying to protect him when they were in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts — though Malik would inevitably “journey off” on his own route, dragging his older brother along with him for some kind of adventure.
“He was just an all-around fun person,” Willie Baxter said.
He added he was proud that his son kept not only himself out of trouble, but encouraged his friends around him to follow their dreams as well.
“It gave me a sense of pride to see him grow up and stay out of trouble — not like a lot of kids nowadays,” he said.
Malik, to the surprise of his parents, joined the Marines at the age of 17, graduating boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. before being stationed at Kanehoe Bay.
Robyn Schneider, now a Midshipmen serving in the NROTC at Virginia Tech University, served in the NJROTC with Malik at Riverhead High School. She remembered the happiness he exuded after he returned from basic training.
“He was just beaming from it,” she said.
According to his family, Malik is expected to be buried on Monday at Calverton National Cemetery, though the family has not finalized arrangements. Plans for a wake are still pending as well, though Willie said it will likely be on Sunday.
In addition to his parents, Malik leaves behind six siblings — Vanessa Byrams, LaShawn Austin, Darnell Austin, Rochelle Austin, Deasia Baxter and Devon Baxter — as well as several nieces and nephews.
The family was gathered together at home on Saturday morning.
“It sucks,” Willie Baxter said. “It’s hard. But we’re dealing with it. Just trying to remember the good times.”
Captions: Malik Baxter (pictured rear center, with arms folded) was killed on Tuesday in a motorcycle crash in Honolulu, where he was stationed. He was one of seven children. (Photos: Courtesy)