He loved people, music and adventure.
Sarai Arias’s heart was racing. Her arms were wrapped tightly around her friend’s waist as he drove his newly purchased 2007 Kawasaki motorcycle.
Then she loosened her grip. Sarai was with Mason, someone she could trust. She had known him her whole life. Mason always put others first. He would never put her in danger.
As they cruised over the Courtney Campbell Causeway, Sarai closed her eyes, her mind at ease.
“He felt like it (the motorcycle) was an escape from everything else in his life,” she said. “He was free.”
Mason Storm Apple, 20, was known at USF St. Petersburg for his 1970s sea-foam-green Chevrolet Chevelle, which always seemed to need a jump for his commute from Tampa to St. Petersburg.
Some knew him as “DJ Storm.” He often provided the music at campus events. “He was always the one to keep the energy alive in a room,” said USFSP student Dawn Rogers. “Mason loved music and his passion rubbed off on everyone else around him.”
His friendship was pure, friends and family say. He did not judge people by their looks, and he defended others from bullies.
“He was Superman,” said high school friend Jonathan Bucheli. “He was always protecting everybody.”
In mid-October, Mason died in an accident while riding his beloved motorcycle.
He was born on Dec. 14, 1994. His blond hair and blue eyes stuck out to his brown-eyed parents, Lisa and Sunny Apple.
“Probably one of the ugliest babies,” his dad joked, calling him Uncle Fester from the Addams Family. “He grew into a handsome young man.”
As he grew, his parents said, Mason became like a third parent to his brothers and sister, Landon, London and Madison.
His mother said Mason surrounded himself with great friends and had a good sense of character – some became as close as family.
He acted as a protective big brother although his sister was older than he. By example, Mason showed Madison, now 23, how a man should treat a lady.
His romantic side came from his dad, who helped Mason make the corsages his girlfriend, Briana Morejón, would wear around her wrist at military balls, prom and homecoming dances. Briana’s mom, Wilma, remembers Mason delivering chocolate chip pancakes to their doorstep.
Mason’s brother, 17-year-old Landon, gained confidence to talk to girls with the help of Mason and his best friend, Ariel Carrillo. Mason helped teach his 15-year-old brother, London, how to play basketball. “I’m on the team because of him,” said London.
He loved to take care of other people. He would drop whatever he was doing to help. He often babysat for family friends and played games with their children as if he were still a kid.
“He had a love for life,” said his father.
In 2013, Mason graduated as a cadet ensign in the Naval ROTC program at Leto High School and started at USFSP shorty after.
Over the summer of 2015, Mason moved to Colorado to work for Vivint Inc. as a door-to-door salesman of security systems. To improve his sales, Mason filmed his pitches on his GoPro camera and studied the videos to perfect his technique.
He could do anything, said his friend Sarai, especially after watching a quick YouTube tutorial.
In the four months that Mason was away, Sarai helped out the Apple family. She said it was the little things, acts that almost go unnoticed, like helping his brothers with their homework and babysitting.
Mason returned home in September and bought his 2007 Kawasaki motorcycle with the money he earned.
On the night of the fatal accident, Mason texted his parents to let them know his plans for the night – dinner and then a night ride with a group of motorcyclists. But he didn’t come home.
He always came home.
“When I woke up and he and his bike weren’t there, I knew,” said Lisa. “It was mother’s intuition.”