OAKLAND (KRON) — As the Ghost Ship Trial comes to an end, here’s a look at the 36 victims who lost their lives in the Oakland warehouse fire on the night of Dec. 2, 2016.
Each person came from different parts of the world, from New York to Finland to Alameda, but all shared a collective passion for their art.
A 22-year-old musician, Cash Askew was transgender and played in the ‘goth-inflected duo’ called Them Are Us Too. The duo released its first album in 2015. After the fire, her record label said Askew was “one of the most talented and loving people we’ve ever known.”
A 33-year-old transgender poet from Oakland, Em Bohlka had began her transition in to a “beautiful, happy woman,’ her father said shortly after the fire. Her father went on to say “she at last was living as she was meant to live.”
Jonathan Bernbaum, 34, was a graduate of Berkeley High School and the University of Southern California. He was a successful video-jockey and died doing what he loved to do, friends said at the time of the fire. He was described as both talented and driven.
He was a Santa Rosa native and friends remember Barrett Clark as a “standup guy” who was always ready to help musicians. The 35-year-old was a sound engineer at the San Francisco club The Bottom of the Hill.
A 24-year-old Santa Monica native, David Cline is remembered as a brilliant student with a bright mind, his brother said after the fire. Cline graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in cognitive science and computer science. His family said after the fire, “He was kind, open, non-judgmental and excited about life and people.”
An artist and musician, 28-year-old Micah Danemayer is remembered as energetic and innovative. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and was involved in the Bay Area’s music scene.
Billy Dixon was a “truly great person” and “immensely talented musician,” his family said after the fire. The 35-year-old beat boxer and DJ lived in Oakland, but was originally from Ohio. His family said everyone who knew him was proud to know him and that he had many people who called him a friend.
Her grandmother said she died doing what she loved. Chelsea Dolan, 33, was an aspiring electronic music artist and had just signed a record deal. She lived in San Francisco and was always smiling, her grandmother said.
A father of two daughters, 35-year-old Alex Ghassan shared a video from the party inside the Ghost Ship less than an hour before he died. He was a film producer and was at the Oakland warehouse that night with his fiancee, who also died in the fire. He produced and directed films in both Brooklyn and Oakland.
He’s remembered as a talented artist and good friend. Nick Gomez-Hall, 25, was originally from San Diego and was working as an administrative assistant at Counterpoint Press, a publishing house in Berkeley. He graduated from Brown University in Rhode Island. He was a musician and played in a band called Nightmom.
An athlete and Bay Area native, 20-year-old Michela Gregory attended South San Francisco High School and later, San Francisco State University, where she was on the honor roll and was studying special education and communication disorders. Gregory was at the Ghost Ship with her boyfriend, Alex Vega, 22, who also died in the fire. A professor of Gregory’s said, “She was quiet, but when she spoke, the class would listen because they knew she would have something important to say.”
Sara Hoda, 30, is remembered as a “humble spirit.” She worked as a support teacher at Oakland’s Urban Montessori Charter School. She taught 1st through 3rd graders and had a way with kids, the head of the school said.
Travis Hough, 35, was part of two electronic music bands in Oakland — Ghost of Lighting and EASYSTREET. Hough is remembered by friends and family as “the warmest, sweetest guy who is loved by all.” Someone close to Hough said he was optimistic and always brightened up the room.
An Alameda-native, Johnny Igaz was deejaying at the Ghost Ship the night of the fire. The 34-year-old attended Alameda High School and the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. He had charisma and a composure that made everyone feel like a friend, friends and family said.
Ara Jo, 29, was a visual artist and organizer the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest. She’s remembered as kind and open and always worked to connect others through her art.
Donna Kellogg, 32, was a barista at Berkeley’s Highwire Coffee Roasters. She was working toward a degree in culinary arts. After the fire, her father said she had a passion for playing the drums, cooking vegetables and soup and ‘avant-garde music. Friends described her as beautiful, giggly and wise.
A 34-year-old Massachusetts native, Amanda Kershaw is remembered as a “fun-loving person who opened her heart and her mind to everyone.” At the time of the fire, she lived in San Francisco with her husband. She is remembered as a beautiful, smart, joyful and talented woman.
Edmund Lapine, 34, worked as a baker in the Bay Area and was pursuing a career as a DJ. He played guitar and had lived in the area for two years before the deadly fire. He attended high school in Utah and graduated from college in Washington.
A 23-year-old UC Berkeley graduate, Griffin Madden is remembered by friends as kind, smart and gifted. Madden was originally from New Jersey, but moved to the Bay Area to study philosophy, literature and Slavic languages at Cal.
He’s remembered as a “philosopher of electronic music.” Joey Matlock, 36, was a musician who worked under the name of Joey Casio. He was born in Texas, but grew up in Washington. Matlock was slated to play at the Ghost Ship at midnight on the night of the fire, about a half-hour after the fire broke out. He lived in Oakland for about seven years before his death.
Friends described him as the “most normal, weird guy.” The 35-year-old artist grew up in Iowa and was down-to-earth and well-liked, friends said. McCarty lived in Oakland at the time of the fire. He had moved to California after studying at the University of Maryland at College Park.
Draven McGill was a 17-year-old San Francisco high school student and was the youngest person killed in the Ghost Ship fire. He was a junior at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts and lived in Dublin. The teen’s great aunt described McGill as a sweet, loving young man.
She loved music, education, dancing and people, Jennifer Mendiola’s mother said shortly after the fire. The 35-year-old Sacramento native was at the Ghost Ship with her boyfriend, Micah Danemayer, who also died in the fire. She had a master’s degree from Sacramento State University and was working toward a PhD in psychology at UC Merced. Her parents said she was happiest around music.
A 21-year-old student at UC Berkeley, Jennifer Morris is remembered by friends as loving, artistic and sharp. Morris graduated from San Mateo High School and grew up in Foster City. Her choir teacher said Morris had a “sweet elegance to her.”
“She was a kind and beautiful person who had the strength to be her true self even when she knew that was not an easy path,” her brother said shortly after her death. Pines, 29, was a musician and artist from Connecticut who had recently moved to San Francisco with friends. She attended high school in Connecticut and the School for Visual Arts in New York.
Vanessa Plotkin, 21, was in her third year at UC Berkeley at the time of her death. She was originally from Lakewood in Los Angeles County and is remembered as a “beautiful human being,” by friends. Plotkin graduated from Lakewood High School in 2013.
Wolfgang Renner, 61, was the oldest victim in the Ghost Ship fire and is remembered as a staple in the underground electro scene. “Wolfgang was about as free of an individual as anyone is likely to ever meet,” a friend said shortly after the fire. He was described as vibrant and as someone who enjoyed life.
Originally from Finland, Ruax moved to Oakland one month before the Ghost Ship fire. She’s described as a social activist, artist and entrepreneur. Her fiance, Alex Ghassan, was also killed in the fire.
Described as a the “brightest shining star,” Benjamin Runnels was the front man for the “croonwave” style band Introflirt. Friends described the 32-year-old as a beautiful singer and “really nice, young man.” He spent weekends in Oakland, playing at piano bars and working on his music.
Described as a ‘feisty feminist rapper,’ Nicole Siegrist, 29, was a synth player for the band Introflirt and a ‘lyric wrangler’ for another band, Vanfanthon. She grew up in Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Friends said she was a free spirit who wanted to make music and art.
A 37-year-old clothing designer, Michele Sylvan died alongside her partner, Wolfgang Renner inside the Ghost Ship. A friend of the pair said the world is “less colorful” without both Renner and Sylvan. She’s remembered as a free and creative soul.
Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye
A 31-year-old Oakland resident, Tanouye worked as a nail artist inside the Ghost Ship. She also worked for the music app company, Shazam. After her death, the company honored her, saying, “We love you and will never forget you Kiyomi.” Friends of Tanouye said she had an “infectious personality,” and describe her as quirky, funny and full of life.
Twenty-two-year-old Alex Vega worked at a Daly City funeral home alongside his girlfriend Michela Gregory, who was also killed in the Ghost Ship fire. Vega dreamed of working as a painter, photographer, fashion designer and mechanic. He was the youngest of four brothers and was described by those who knew him as an “old soul.”
The 38-year-old was like family to his friends, one friend said. Pete Wadsworth attended Reed College in Oregon, but at the time of the fire, lived inside the Ghost Ship. Another resident living at the Ghost Ship said Wadsworth was “a walking catalog of correct factual knowledge.”
His girlfriend describes him as wonderful, open and generous. Just prior to the fire, Nick Walrath, 31, was hired as an attorney at a San Francisco law firm. Walrath and his girlfriend moved to the Bay Area from New York. He worked as a law clerk at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco before being hired as an attorney. “He could really step outside of himself and care and listen to other people and feel their struggles, and want to help,” his girlfriend said.
Brandon Chase Wittenauer
The 32-year-old Hayward resident was a musician and lead vocalist for the band Symbiotix.Fungi. Friends described Brandon Chase Wittenauer as the “best dude at the bar,” happy and thriving. “He had found his place in life and the Oakland artist community and was happy and thriving. He saw art in everything around him,” a friend of his said after the fire.
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