A candlelight vigil for Lucas Ransom, the 19-year-old UCSB student who sustained a fatal shark bite to his left leg while body boarding at Surf Beach, was held in Isla Vista on October 26.
“Tonight is about Luke and all he was,” said Hannah Meade, organizer of the vigil and Ransom’s close friend who lived with him in the Santa Catalina dorms.
Despite the cold weather, a sizable crowd filtered into the park located on the corner of Del Playa and Camino Corto streets. Songs were sung and fond memories were shared in the pitch black darkness of the park, lit only by candles and a myriad of glow sticks scattered throughout the grass.
Ransom’s roommates and friends spoke before the attendees, mostly evoking laughter by recalling Ransom’s idiosyncrasies and his extroverted, overall good-natured personality. Those who spoke about him all mentioned a certain je ne sais quoi about his magnetism and contagious happiness.
“I feel so much cooler for even knowing you,” wrote Ransom’s roommate, Tyler Wagnor, in a letter to Ransom that he read aloud at the vigil. According to Wagnor, each of Ransom’s housemates wrote him a letter after receiving news of his death.
Matthew Garcia, Ransom’s roommate who was present during the shark attack, did not speak before the crowd.
A former lifeguard at a community pool in Murietta, California, a high school water polo and swim team member, Ransom was what his friends and family referred to as “a water boy.”
“He loved the ocean more than anything in the world,” said Ransom’s friend, Rachel Johnston.
Ransom’s older brother, Travis Ransom, said that, although he did not know most of the people present, he felt an inexplicable bond to them through their loyalty to his brother.
“When we were out there [in the ocean], it was the happiest I’d ever seen him,” the elder Ransom said about his brother and their body-boarding excursions. He said that most times they would set out as early as 3 a.m. and return just in time for lunch.
“It’s peaceful to me knowing he passed [away] the happiest he could ever have been,” said Travis Ransom.
Shark expert Ralph Collier, who consulted with the county’s coroner’s bureau, theorized that the shark that attacked Ransom measured 17-18 feet long and weighed nearly 4,000 pounds.
Officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base closed Surf, Wall, and Minuteman beaches the weekend after the October 22 attack. There were no shark sightings during weekend patrols at the base beaches. Surf Beach was reopened on October 25.
“It’s hard to be sad about it,” said Tommy Urich, another of Ransom’s housemates. “When I think of him, I just smile and remember all the fun times we had and how he was,” Urich added.
Ransom’s exuding confidence is one of the main things people will remember him by, as Wagnor wrote in his letter.
Wagnor wrote, “A shark? That’s the only way a legend like you should go out. You went out on top.”