Category Archives: Venice Beach

Nick Fagnano

Obituary: Venice Beach lightning strike victim Nick Fagnano “taken to heaven”

A private funeral Mass will be held at a church near Hancock Park this evening for Nicholas Patrick Fagnano, the 20-year-old man electrocuted Sunday when a bolt of lightning struck the water near the Venice Pier.

Fagnano was at the beach with a group of friends when dark clouds started gathering in the afternoon. Just before the group was planning leave, Fagnano went back into the water to rinse off.

About 2:20 p.m., according to witnesses, a massive bolt of lightning split into several tentacles and hit the water on both sides of the pier, electrifying the water. The thunder was so loud it stunned beachgoers for miles around and, in the confusion that followed, Fagnano was found unconscious in the surf about 30 minutes later.

The obituary for Nick, written by his mother, Mary, reads as follows:

“Taken to heaven by a flash in a cloud, this beautiful young man, who radiated joy, kindness, humor and love touched the lives of everyone he encountered. He had a maturity and wisdom that was beyond his years, yet an innocence of spirit that was evident from kindergarten all the way into his adult life.

He never lost a friend, in fact, he couldn’t have too many of them and he knew how to make each one of them feel special. One day he’d be hiking in the Hollywood Hills with his best friend from pre-school, the next he’d be getting together with friends from his High School alma mater, Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks, at their regular weekend gathering spot.

Nick could impersonate almost anyone in the most endearing way and, in doing so, have everyone laughing uncontrollably. He’d break into full body dances his long arms outstretched, his legs and hips going in all directions, his smile would go sideways and his eyes would squint as if to say—“I’m the coolest crazy nerd on the planet! And, who cares? I’m lovin’ life!”

Nick’s priorities in life were faith, family and friends and he kept himself constantly busy pursuing his passions. From the time he was four years old, Nick loved baseball. He wore just about every team jersey from T-ball through Wilshire baseball league as well as City of Angels baseball league. But the jersey he was most proud to wear was that of the Knights of Notre Dame High School because it meant he was part of a very special group of young men and their families who thought the world of Nick whether he could throw a fast ball over the plate or not. Nick was also true to Dodger Blue and knew every team detail of which he and his Dad, Jay, would talk incessantly pre, during, post and in the best of years…playoff seasons.

Nick had to work harder than many of his friends to get good grades. Reading was never easy but he overcame this challenge by dedicating himself to long hours of studying. He found mentors in some of his favorite teachers, and he knew when to ask for extra help from his parents or his tutor, Josh, who helped him throughout high school. Nick’s awareness of what it took to be successful came through his ability to bring together a team to get things accomplished.

After high school Nick wanted to stay in the game a little longer and he joined some of his former Notre Dame teammates on the Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros. After his first year, Nick was ready to hang up his glove to focus on achieving the grades it would take to get admitted to USC where he wanted to study Real Estate and Urban Development. He also got his first real job working at an Isla Vista smoothie shop, Blenders in the Grass. He said he absolutely loved this job because he could give a smile to everyone who walked in the door and make them happy.

Nick was fascinated by the development going on in downtown Los Angeles which prompted him to leave Santa Barbara City College at the end of his 3rd semester and move into the downtown Los Angeles loft that he had encouraged his empty-nester parents to move into a year earlier. He was finishing his credits for his sophomore year at Santa Monica City College when he applied to USC’s Price School of Public Policy and was ecstatic when the thick envelope arrived in the mail this May fulfilling a new dream.

Nick was also excited to land a job with the opening group of employees at Ace Hotel where he worked at Upstairs, the rooftop bar, which looked across at the windows of the loft he and his parents were living in at the Eastern Columbia Building. Again he endeared himself to a new support group of co-workers—of which Nick was the youngest. He often commented that bar work was much harder than smoothie work but he persevered until he gave notice to take a few weeks off to go to Maui with his parents and their friends and then to get ready to start classes at USC.

On Maui, Nick fulfilled another life-long dream…surfing with Jay who had regaled him with his own high school stories about growing up in Hermosa Beach and surfing every morning before school. Nick had done a bit of surfing in Santa Barbara and described the experience as the best feeling in the world. He’d just bought his first surfboard, but hadn’t taken it to Venice on July 27th. Instead, he was just hanging out on the beach with two friends from high school talking about girls and how goofy parents can be sometimes.

Nick was the child that every parent could hope for. Throughout his life Nick also forged incredibly close non-parental friendships with adults that showed him different perspectives on life and in these relationships both Nick and his “grown-up” friends gave so much to each other. Nick also had such a strong sense of what is right and was always careful when asking his parents for something he needed whether it was money or something that took money. He never took things for granted and he never forgot to show appreciation.

Favorite everyday times for Nick and his parents were when they were together at home as a family. Every evening the three of them spent together, Jay cooked dinner and they sat at the dining table. Every dinner started by holding hands saying grace and every dinner usually involved talking about something funny that happened that day.   Another special time of day would come when Nick came home from school and Nick’s mom, Mary and Jay working in their home offices could hear Nick playing the guitar…. or even the drums. Every chapter of Nick’s life was equally as rewarding to his parents as the one that had come before.

Extending beyond his parents, Nick had incredibly close family ties. His Nana (Jay’s mom) was a buddy—they played golf together since Nick was 6 years old playing courses from Orlando, FL to Whistler, CN. Nick also had a special bond with his Uncle Dennis (Mary’s brother). Dennis, the youngest of 6 (with an 8 year gap between him and the second to the youngest) and Nick, an only child, were like the brothers each never had. They shared the same taste in music and baseball going to Warped Tours and A’s games together in the summer and snowboarding in Tahoe in the winter. Every family bond had its unique qualities for Nick and he had treasured cousins, aunts and uncles in Southern and Northern California. Every summer he would venture on his own to spend time with Mary’s extended family and his grandma who shared with him her love of books, spirituality and baseball. Both his grandmothers were widows—their husbands, Dennis Shanahan and Nicholas Fagnano, passed away the same week in 1989, but Nick did have a special relationship with Poppa Vince, Mary’s stepfather, who passed away in 2013.

There’s one gift Nick had that he never had to work for. He was born with this gift and it was evident in his eyes from the time he was a baby—it was his gift of faith…and generosity. When he was little, and even the week he passed away, he would give something to the homeless man and from the time he was a little boy he couldn’t walk past a guy playing guitar on the street without putting something in his case. His faith wasn’t just something he was taught, it was something that was part of his DNA and it’s what strengthens his loved ones in this difficult time. Nick’s love of God and trust that Jesus was always his source of strength and guidance, was the perspective from which he made life’s most important decisions and in doing so, he made this world a better place.

Through his faith, Nick connected with people on a spiritual level whether it was his teachers at St. Brendan Grade School; principal Sister Maureen O’Connor, and pastor Monsignor Terry Fleming or his activities in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes led by Notre Dame Knights baseball coach, Tom Dill. In Isla Vista, Nick regularly attended Sunday mass at St. Mark’s the Newman Center parish where he re-connected with Father John Love who had once been his pastor at St. Brendan. All through grade school, he’d been an altar server and, on occasion, even when home from college, he wasn’t embarrassed to fill in if none of the younger ones showed up to do the job. The day Nick died, he had attended 8 a.m. mass at St. Brendan Church with his parents.

A light as bright as Nick’s cannot be extinguished. A flash of lightning and dark clouds give way to fingers of sunlight streaming down from heaven. Those fingers reach around our hands and our hearts and lift us upward toward a brighter future for all impacted by this terrible tragedy. While the immediate family cannot fathom their loss of Nick, those around the world who are touched by Nick’s life will know that there is great hope for our young men and women to show us all a better world.

Nick is survived by his parents Mary and Jay Fagnano, grandmothers Nancy Fagnano and Katherine Shanahan-Poettgen, aunt Christine Fagnano, cousins Lindsey and Sydney Fagnano, uncle Mark Fagnano, cousin Tony Fagnano, aunt and uncle Patty Shanahan-Williams and Keith Williams and cousins Kaya and Teah Williams, uncle and aunt Jim Shanahan and Katie Curry-Shanahan, uncle and aunt John Shanahan and Teresa Shanahan, cousins, Andrew, Michaela, Peter, Joseph and Grace Shanahan, Uncle and Aunt Dan Shanahan and Felicia Hernandez-Shanahan and cousins Danielle, Katie and Matthew Shanahan, and his Uncle Dennis Shanahan.

A scholarship fund for an undergraduate transfer student to the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy based on merit and character has been established in Nick’s name. Donations may also be made to the St. Brendan School Building Fund.”

This undated photo provided by the Fagnano family shows Nick Fagnano.

Prayer vigil held for Venice Beach lightning strike victim Nick Fagnano

Loved ones of Venice Beach lightning strike victim Nick Fagnano gathered Tuesday night at a church in North Hollywood for a prayer vigil, with one friend describing the 20-year-old as the “nicest person anybody will ever meet.”

Fagnano died of injuries suffered about 2:20 p.m. Sunday when bolt of lightning electrified the water near the Venice pier.

The prayer vigil Tuesday was held at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, 10800 Moorpark St., in North Hollywood.

Two of Fagnano’s friends who were with him at the beach when the accident occurred organized Tuesday’s vigil.

Friends said Fagnano was about the leave the beach but decided to go back into the water to rinse off just before the strike. Firefighters said he was in grave condition when pulled from the surf.

“Nick just went in the water,” friend Alex Zamora told KTLA at the vigil. “Me and Brett were out by the volleyball courts and we hear this big loud bang.”

According to the National Weather Service, Fagnano became the 16th person killed by lightning strikes this year.

Seven adults and a 15-year-old boy were hospitalized following the thunderstorm, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Friend Matt Cohen said Fagnano was “just the nicest person anybody will ever meet.”

“His smile was infectious; his personality was incomparable,” Cohen said.

Fagnano, who worked at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, was a graduate of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, where he was pitcher on the baseball team. He planned to enter USC’s Price School of Public Policy this fall as a junior.

“There was so much commotion when the lightning struck on the beach, he was not one of those recovered in the first response,” Fagnano’s mother, Mary, told the Daily News. “His friends were looking frantically for him, couldn’t find him. Half an hour after lightning struck, his body was found about 50 feet out.”

The other people who were hospitalized after the lightning strike were expected to fully recover, fire officials said.

Dennis Kucinich to Campaign for Marianne Williamson | May 10 2014

Former US Representative and two-time candidate for President Dennis Kucinich will be campaigning for Marianne Williamson, Saturday May 10, 10 AM at Full Circle 305 Rose Avenue.  The race to replace Henry Waxman, who has served in Congress since 1975, is heating up, the primaries are June 3, and the election is November 4. The New York Times ran a snarky, longish, but entertaining piece  “The Real House Candidates of Beverly Hills” about the field of candidates, we here at Yo Venice have put together a twitter list to keep up with the contenders, and Open Secrets is following the money. UPDATE: Independent Candidate Brent Roske announced he is withdrawing from the race and  endorsing Marianne Williamson. Video in the Forum.

Art Opening: Trek’s 100×100 Tomorrow, April 26th 6-8PM

Thunder Trek Kelly asked us on Facebook if we could post about his photo show tomorrow from 6PM-8PM at 9 Dudley Avenue. It looks like an interesting way for photographers to sell their work, and browsing a few of his instagram images, it looks like it might be worth dropping in to check it. UPDATE: It looks like, given the concerns of neighbors regarding the exhibition space expressed in the forums, the Cadillac Hotel is trying to be proactive for this event:

Hi all,

Trek Thunder Kelly is having a photo exhibit tomorrow from 6 to 8pm at 9 Dudley Avenue.  We expect the crowd to dissipate by 9pm.  Any neighbors, please feel free to call or text with any concerns. 310 383 2469

Please see the invite below -