A 20-year-old man in Southern California who died after being struck by lightning at Venice Beach Sunday afternoon is being remembered by his family as a "remarkable young man of incredible character."
Nick Fagnano had stepped into the water to wash off the sand before leaving the beach when lightning struck, family members said. He was taken to Marina Del Rey Hospital where he later died, coroner’s officials said.
"It was that one moment when he happened to be in the water at the wrong time," said Fagnano's uncle, Dennis Shanahan. "It's a huge loss for all of us."
The Los Angeles native graduated from Notre Dame High School in 2012 where he was a pitcher for the baseball team, family members said. Fagnano continued playing when he attended Santa Barbara City College.
"Everyone was proud of him, everyone thanked him, he was just the happiest kid ever," former baseball teammate and friend Payton Milone said.
"(He was) very kind-hearted, affected people," Milone said. "He did nothing wrong, said nothing wrong, he was the kid in our group of friends that always emphasized doing the good thing instead of the bad. It's just...it's unreal."
Fagnano's former baseball coach at Notre Dame said the school and team was "devastated."
"Anyone who taught or coached Nick would say he was one of the sweetest kids you could ever meet," Tim Dill said.
After finishing up some general education requirements at Santa Monica College, Fagnano was accepted to USC where he planned to attend in fall.
"Nick was a remarkable young man of incredible character," said Shanahan. "The three most important things to him in life were his faith, family and friends."
In a statement Monday, Fagnano was described as a "bright light" in the world.
"Nick was the friendliest young man you'd ever meet. He was an only child. The kind of kid every parent would want their son to grow up to be. Hard-working, ambitious, and truly kind-hearted. Always happy. Great sense of humor. He had many friends, but was also very close with his mom, dad and extended family," the statement read in part.
Shanahan, a weathercaster in Sacramento, said he saw the news reports of the fatal lightning strike before learning that the victim was a family member.
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
"Parents can cherish every moment they have with their kids. Just hug their kids tighter," Shanahan said. "You just never know."
Seven others were hospitalized after the lightning strike, including one with critical injuries.
A swimmer who was released from the hospital Sunday night said he doesn't remember the lightning strike, but recalls being rescued by friends from the water after suddenly losing consciousness.
"The next thing you know I was struggling to get my head back above the water," said the swimmer, who identified himself only as Paul. "Thank God they were brave enough to just jump in and not hesitate."
"I understand one person didn't make it. I just want to say that my thoughts go out to that person's family," Paul added.
Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.