Photos by Asia Morris.
Three days after Garden Grove resident Daniel Nguyen fell to his death while rescuing a friend during a hike in the Devil’s Backbone area of Mount Baldy, his friends and coworkers who worked alongside him at Long Beach-based Maritime Bicycle Courier remembered the kind and adventurous young man with a memorial bike ride to the Peninsula.
The mood was anything but somber, as the memories shared Friday morning induced many a laugh and a look back at the positivity Nguyen had shared within one of Long Beach’s niche cycling communities.
Maritime co-owner Bud Abille said he was grateful that Nguyen had passed through his life, if just for a short period of time. The sentiment was shared among all the couriers, that his is a life to be celebrated.
“People like Daniel bring us together,” Maritime co-owner Langdon Taguiped said to the group. “When someone good dies like this, you want to celebrate their life, not be bummed out about it.”
While several were silently present, attendees were consoled by the thought that Nguyen was living and constantly seeking a life to enjoy, while spreading the same contented vibes to those around him. The group lit candles and created a small shrine on the jetty to honor his short, yet joyous time spent in this world.
Emil Anastacio, a coworker and fellow CSULB Cycling Team member, told the Post on Wednesday that he had met Nguyen four years ago during CSULB Cycling’s weekly team ride when they were both new to the sport.
“My favorite moment together was at our team’s camping trip,” he said. “Everybody was asleep and he and I were sitting by the campfire, looking at the stars, and talking about our future. I asked him what his aspirations were and he responded, ‘Dude, I honestly don’t know, I just know I want to be out there helping people’. He then talked about the possibility of joining the Peace Corps, wanting to tutor children, and his past trip to Louisiana to help build homes for people in need.”
Photo by courier Nico Steele.
Tina Thomas, Nguyen’s aunt, wrote in an email that she found out about the incident Tuesday night while at a Lakers game. She read her family’s messages during the event, but couldn’t fully comprehend what had happened.
“I read it so many times and the only word I could message back was ‘OMG,’” she wrote.
When asked how the outpouring of support and messages from his friends and community made her feel, Thomas replied, “Extremely touched, grateful and blessed. I read all the messages and some caught me by surprise. We knew Daniel was kind and selfless, but we didn't realize the depth of it and how many people he impacted positively.”
Moving forward, Thomas wrote that, if anything, those affected by Nguyen’s passing can always do one thing to remember him: extending kindness to others.
“Daniel was only 23 years old, but he gave selflessly so much more than many people with more years on him,” Thomas said. “Daniel and I shared the love for hiking and I will hike in loving memory of Daniel. The world would be a much better place if we have more people like Daniel. We can celebrate Daniel's life by honoring him with acts of kindness toward others.”
While a GoFundMe campaign has raised sufficient funds for the family to hold a proper burial, thanks to nearly 450 contributors, the account is still open to readers who wish to donate to Nguyen’s parents, here.