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|The Metal Mulisha and the Desert Assassins constructed a memorial near San Felipe, Mexico, honoring Jeff "Ox" Kargola, who died there April 29, 2011, during the Desert Assassins' Rip to the Tip ride.|
On Friday, riders from the Metal Mulisha, the Desert Assassins crew, and friends of family of Jeff "Ox" Kargola gathered near San Felipe, Mexico, to mark the one-year anniversary of Kargola's death and erect a memorial in his honor.
Kargola died on April 29, 2011, after sustaining a head injury on the second day of the Desert Assassins' Rip to the Tip desert motocross event on Mexico's Baja Peninsula. After dedicating the memorial, the group rode together following portions of Kargola's final, fatal route.
"Everyone went down to Mexico this weekend, but I just couldn't go: It was too weird for me to go back down there," Shane Ruiz, a close friend of Kargola, told ESPN.com. Ruiz is director of communications for the Metal Mulisha.
"I did want to make sure we honored his memory on this day, so I called up Ryan Hagy and a couple of the other guys and we all agreed that the best way to do that was to make sure everyone would be able to see the kind of rider he was and the kind of person he was," Ruiz said. "This week we're releasing the full Ox tribute section from Jay Schweitzer's Metal Mulisha film 'Black Friday' and asking people to share any photos, videos, or memories they have at MetalMulisha.com."
Kargola, known to all in the motocross and action sports world simply as "Ox," made his X Games debut in 2001 and competed on the Dew Tour, the Red Bull X-Fighters world tour, and other events over the past decade, but was better known for his freeriding prowess out in the hills and for going big -- very big -- off natural terrain jumps. The phenomenal footage he shot for "Black Friday" was expected to help launch his career to new heights but ended up standing as the final document of a rider in his prime.
"There are no words to describe the emotional pain and loss of such a amazing person and friend," Ruiz wrote on Sunday, in a memorial post on the Metal Mulisha website. "It's hard to believe that a whole year has gone by as we share memories and thoughts of Jeff each and every day. Ox touched so many people's lives and accomplished a lot in his short life, more than most people would dream of doing in a few lifetimes. For that he was admired, respected and most of all loved by all who had the pleasure to meet him and call him a friend."
On Sunday, Kargola's friends and family gathered back in California at the San Clemente pier, the site where surfing legend Sunny Garcia led a memorial paddle-out after his funeral ceremony last year.
"Ronnie Faisst came to San Clemente pier, the place where we paddled out last year and said our final goodbyes to Ox, and gave an amazing speech to Ox's closest friends and family members," Ruiz told ESPN.com on Sunday. "It was a great way to look back and remember the amazing person Ox was. Rest in peace, Ox. You may be gone for now, but you'll never be forgotten."
The Metal Mulisha is selling men's and women's T-shirts online to benefit to benefit the Jeff "Ox" Kargola Fund. For more information on Kargola's life and legacy, see Tes Sewell's 2011 memorial piece for ESPN.com.