A 20-year-old man electrocuted Sunday when a bolt of lightning struck the water near the Venice Pier will be remembered at a private funeral Mass today as an athlete, a fun-loving friend and aspiring real estate developer.
“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 … ” said an obituary posted online by his family.
Nicholas Patrick 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.
According to the National Weather Service, Fagnano became the 16th person killed by lightning strikes this year.
A 56-year-old Los Angeles County lifeguard was among several other people in the ocean who were shocked as the electricity made its way to ground.
He was initially hospitalized in critical condition but has since been upgraded to fair.
Fagnano lived in downtown Los Angeles and tended bar at Upstairs, the rooftop bar at the Ace Hotel in the vintage-1927 Art Deco United Artists building. He was looking forward to attending USC’s Price School of Public Policy in the fall, according to friends and family.
After attending Santa Barbara City College, then Santa Monica College, he was accepted as an incoming junior.
The only child of Mary and Jay Fagnano was a pitcher at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks and played on the Santa Barbara City College baseball team before deciding to pursue a career in commercial real estate.
His high school coach remembered him as devout.
“He was very involved in our Fellowship of Christian Athletes, where you read Bible study at lunch every Friday,” Tom Dill told the Los Angeles Times.
A scholarship fund for undergraduate transfer students has been established in his name at USC. Donations can also be made to the St. Brendan School Building Fund.
Msgr. Terrance Fleming will celebrate the funeral Mass for Fagnano at 5 p.m. at St. Brendan Catholic Church. A vigil was held for him St. Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood Tuesday night.
He is survived by his parents; grandmothers Nancy Fagnano and Kitty 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.