Death at the Beach


Yesterday, I was at my mother’s bedside, as I have been many Sundays since January.

My 10-year-old niece Ava was there too, propped up in front of my mom on the rented hospital bed, her violet eyes shaded by a straw hat. And my sister-in-law Pri sat nearby in a white leather chair, resplendent in white crochet shorts, and a fitted denim shirt covering her fit and polished body.

Outside the windows, whose northern view stretches from Hollywood to Santa Monica, the Marina sky blew weird and malformed haze and clouds, the type that indicates rain in any normal city but whose presence in the Southland is always ignored.

We were talking about mean girls, and then we were talking about kitchen renovations, moving a refrigerator to the other side of the door. We were talking about a new couch in the Living Room. And I was invited to do my imitation of my brother at work, which evoked laughter from his daughter.

And then there was a thunderous boom. Followed minutes later by the sirens and the fire trucks speeding down Admiralty Way.

I went onto Twitter and checked Venice 311. I learned lightning had struck 7 people. Every few minutes I looked. Until The Tweats said a body was floating near the shore.

And then they confirmed a man was killed by what we had heard, electrocuted in the Pacific Ocean near Washington Boulevard.

He went into the water and entered eternity on an 8 million to one chance.

Later on, as it always does in Los Angeles, the sun came out. We lifted my mother out of her bed, into her wheelchair, and pushed her along Washington Blvd. past skateboarders, bikers, and runners.

On the beach, near the sand, were parked the trucks from KCAL and KABC and cars from LAPD. Above us helicopters hovered in the sky.

These were the only clues that something tragic and meaningless had recently come out of the sky, weather that blew fast, dark and deathly over the water, taking away 20-year-old Nick Fagnano, a student swimming on a Sunday, a young man loved by family and friends.

4 thoughts on “Death at the Beach

  1. What an amazingly small world that a tragedy occurring not far from where this blog’s owner was at the time, in a part of LA that he and his ailing mother would otherwise not have been in, involved a person who a reader of this blog just happened to know by way of her daughter.

    Moreover, that person — a victim of a truly horrible freak accident — also was interested in (and studied at college) a topic that this blog’s owner apparently can relate to.

    A sad, rather eerie version of the phrase “six degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

    My condolences to the victim and also my best wishes to Mrs Hurvitz and her son Andrew.

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  2. Write more about Nick Fagnano, his life in the Valley, at Notre Dame High School – Class of 2012, and then on his way to his Junior year at USC (studying Urban Development). Being, I’m sure, the first of his young graduating class to die – even before their 5-year or 10-year reunions. If you want to interview some people who knew Nick – email me separately and I’ll send you some names. He was my daughter’s age – they were classmates at NDHS in their freshman year, then my daughter transferred schools. But she knew who he knew. This random act of mother nature hits way to close to home. 😦

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