Under a cloudless night sky a few hundred yards from the Pacific Ocean, several hundred people — mostly UCSB students — said goodbye Tuesday night to Lucas McKaine Ransom, who died Friday after being attacked by a great white shark while boogie boarding off Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Surf Beach.
By the light of candles and glo sticks, Tuesday’s gathering in Isla Vista offered a heartfelt tribute to the 19-year-old UCSB junior from Romoland who was majoring in chemical engineering.
The attack was the first fatality in mainland Santa Barbara County’s history.
There was laughter, and some tears, among the crowd of friends and family. A half-dozen roommates took the mic to share letters they had written to Ransom on the day they found out he had been killed. They painted a portrait of an oft-crazily dressed young man who loved to surf, play Halo video games and stay up late most nights.
“You were the person I said goodnight to the most, and you don’t know how much I appreciated that — going to bed feeling secure and loved,” one roommate said.
Tales of “epic food journeys” in the middle of the night and rambunctious “play fights” among the roommates drew out laughter among his friends.
“Every time I think about him, it brings a smile to my face,” another told the crowd.
Travis Ransom, the victim’s older brother, shared a particularly moving set of thoughts. Recounting their 19 years together as siblings, he said he couldn’t remember a time seeing his brother sad. The pair swam and played water polo together in high school, and body-boarded together with friends. Being in the ocean together was the happiest he said he had ever seen his brother.
“I’d be paddling out, and he’d be on a wave. I’ve never seen him smile that big before.” Ransom said. “It’s so peaceful to me to know that he passed away doing something that was one of the most special things to him in the world. He truly passed away the happiest he could have ever been.”
Looking at his brother’s life was a good lesson to everyone, Ransom said.
“Live life like it’s your last second,” he said. “Really value your time ... because when it’s your time, it’s your time.”