CHARLES CITY — Friends and family remember Trent Alan Smith as a passionate artist and a dedicated family man.
Smith, a 23-year-old Charles City man, died at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City after being seriously injured in a crash Tuesday. He was driving west on the Avenue of the Saints when he hit the back of a semitrailer stopped on the road near Rudd.
“He was one of a kind,” said Brad Duckert of River City Tattoo. “I’ve been in this 15 years; I’ve never met anyone like him.”
Duckert hired Smith after being impressed with his craft.
RUDD — A Charles City man died after being seriously injured in a crash on Avenue of the Sai…
Smith was the kind of artist who wanted to learn as much as he could and always wanted to improve his skills, Duckert said. He was scheduled to show his work at an art expo in Charles City next week.
Smith’s parents, Todd and Susie Smith of Charles City, were proud of his career choice.
“He told us he wanted to do it and I said ‘go for it,’” Todd said. “Life’s too short to do stuff you don’t want to be doing.”
Smith was 17 when he told his parents he wanted his first tattoo. Susie drove her son up to Rochester and both got inked.
“I said, ‘If you’re getting one then I will, too,’” Susie said.
Smith got his name tattooed on his ribs in Mayan. After that, he advised his customers not to get their first tattoos in painful places like ribs and feet.
Todd said his son was also a registered organ donor — a choice that could help as many as 75 people.
“It’s amazing and I am so proud of him,” Susie said. “He loved life and cares so much about helping people.”
Duckert said Smith was an “unbelievable worker and family guy.”
“His fiancée and son meant everything to him,” he said.
Smith is also survived by fiancée, Liz Sweet, and their son, Kai Misol Smith, both of Charles City.
Smith and Sweet were planning their wedding for September 2017 in Clear Lake. Their son, Kai, will turn 2 next month.
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“From the moment I was pregnant he loved our son more than anything,” Sweet said. “Everything he did in life was for me, but especially Kai. He did everything he could to make sure Kai had the best life.”
Sweet said that Smith would do anything for his son.
“He took Kai everywhere, and shared every experience together that he could,” Sweet said. “He had so much more planned to teach him.”
Smith graduated from Charles City Schools in 2011 then attended North Iowa Area Community College for two years.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Trent Smith,” Charles City Superintendent Dan Cox said via email. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Smith, Salinas, and Sweet families.”
Rachel McGuire, director of enrollment services at NIACC, said Trent came into the office every day with a smile — or at least a signature smirk — on his face.
“We were extremely sad to learn of Trent’s death,” she said.
Smith was an accomplished track and cross country runner while at NIACC, earning honorable mention all-American honors after placing 11th at a NJCAA Division I cross country meet in 2011.
He was named a U.S. citizen All-American at a NJCAA national cross country meet in November 2012, an honor reserved for the top 25 American runners at the event.
In January 2013, his 5,000 meter finish — more than 30 seconds faster than the qualifying standard — qualified him for a national meet.
“Trent Smith was pretty impressive,” NIACC coach Curtis Vais told the Globe Gazette in 2013.
“He was always a joy to have around and had such talent in both the arts and athletics,” McGuire said. Smith was also a part of the college’s Jazz Ensemble and Concert Band.
After college, Smith’s parents said he fell out of love with track. Within the past six months, he began to like it again and had been thinking of volunteer coaching.
He began a tattoo artist apprenticeship at Arch Angel Tattoos in Waterloo after college. Smith worked for River City Tattoo for the past year.
“He was going to be a superstar and his talents were going to take him wherever he wanted to go,” Duckert said.
A celebration of Smith’s life is 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Hauser Funeral Home in Charles City. A funeral Mass is 10 a.m. Saturday at Immaculate Conception Church in Charles City.