The friends of George Kalev, the 19-year-old UCSB student who died in a motorcycle accident over the weekend, erected a memorial at the scene of his accident on Sunday afternoon to remember the man they knew as fun and fearless.
Kalev lost control of his bike and crashed while traveling along Highway 33 in Ventura on Saturday evening. Max Roth, Kalev’s roommate, said he and approximately 10 friends held a small memorial for Kalev on Sunday, placing a cross on the side of the highway where the motorcycle landed. He said they gathered the shredded remains of the motorcycle and placed them around the cross along with flowers and items that reminded them of their friend.
“We put his UCSB hat out there,” Roth said. “He never went a day without wearing that hat.”
Friends of Kalev, who was a sophomore at UCSB, said they will always remember him for his fun-loving personality and endless optimism.
Sonny Nyamathi, a second-year biochemistry major, said he had known Kalev since high school. He said Kalev worked at Home Depot in Goleta, and was paying for all of his education and living expenses on his own. Despite these responsibilities, Kalev always knew how to have a good time.
“He was probably the most carefree person I know,” Nyamathi said. “I don’t think I have ever seen him sad. He was always smiling; always making people laugh.”
Demitry Smirnov, who had known Kalev for two years and was visiting Santa Barbara the weekend of the accident, described his friend’s personality as unforgettable.
“He was a guy that always wanted to have fun with his friends make them laugh,” Smirnov said. “He was overall a great guy. Everyone who knew him is going to miss him. They will never forget him.”
Roth said Kalev was a person who loved life and was never afraid to take risks.
“He had book smarts,” Roth said. “His judgment was sometimes clouded, but he was a very bright. He had the attitude of ‘go big or go home.'”
Nyamathi said he, along with three other people, witnessed Kalev’s accident. He said the group had traveled up the hilly highway to reach a good view of a lake below the road and, before they turned around to go back down the hill, the four friends warned Kalev not to drive too fast.
As Roth drove down the hill to a place where he could get cell phone reception and call for help, Nyamathi and Zach Hopkins — who had known Kalev for a year — performed CPR on their friend until police arrived to the scene.
Witnessing his friend’s death, Hopkins said, has made him realize the value of life. He said he hopes Kalev’s accident can teach people to be more careful with their own lives.
“I hope everyone takes out of this that they need to be careful,” Hopkins said. “Life is short and fragile.”
Kalev’s parents were contacted the night of his accident. Nyamathi said Kalev’s mother lives in Bulgaria and is in the process of coming back to America. He said Kalev’s father, who lives in West Hollywood, has not yet set a date for the funeral.