The friends and co-workers of Manuel Stahl, a senior philosophy major who passed away following a motorcycle accident last Friday, said they are shocked by his passing and will always remember him as rambunctious, driven and charismatic.
Stahl was traveling eastbound on Highway 101 to meet a friend in Los Angeles when he veered into the left-hand lane and crashed into the back of a Honda Civic, causing him to fall off his motorcycle and land underneath the rear wheels of a pick-up truck, said Justin Wilkins, who lived with Stahl and graduated from UCSB in 2004. He said Stahl, who was born in Germany and moved to California before high school, was a responsible person who never drove his motorcycle recklessly.
Garrett Ince, a fourth-year communication major who went to high school with Stahl, said Stahl’s friends are still in a state of shock over his death.
“You never expect something like this to happen,” Ince said. “It really hits home when it’s someone you’re so close to. We all feel numb, we’re all at a loss for words.”
John Hoyer said he met Stahl approximately four months ago when the man moved into his house in Goleta. Hoyer, a fourth-year psychology major, said he and his housemates warmed to Stahl the first time they met him.
“He’s the type of person that everyone would want to be around – you’ll never meet a more enthusiastic or energetic person,” Hoyer said. “Whether he was playing video games or going out on a Friday night, he was up for anything.”
Brittany Heavlin, a second-year biopsychology major who worked with Stahl at UCen Catering for over a year, said she will always remember his charming and lively personality. Heavlin said Stahl’s zeal for life was contagious.
“I was always so exited when I saw him,” Heavlin said. “He was always cracking jokes, he was so energetic, and he always laughed.”
Stahl wanted to be a lawyer and was so dedicated to his goal that he moved into Goleta to avoid distractions, Heavlin said.
“He wanted to go to law school,” Heavlin said. “He moved out of I.V. to focus on his grades. He was so determined.”
Family and friends were the most important priorities in Stahl’s life, Wilkins said. He said Stahl always strove to make his parents and siblings proud.
Stahl had two younger brothers and he always tried to be a good role model for his siblings, Hoyer said. He said Stahl was a good example and a good source of advice for his friends, as well.
“He was the older brother we all wish we had,” Hoyer said.
Ince said Stahl was determined to enjoy everything and did not let anything get in the way of his ambitions.
“He was a very passionate guy with whatever he did,” Ince said. “He would really do whatever he wanted at any point. Nothing would hold him back.”
Stahl had a loud voice, which he loved to use while playing video games, Hoyer said. He said Stahl was always a good sport, but he relished winning.
“He was the one person I would hate to lose to, because he would love to rub it in your face,” Hoyer said. “But it made you laugh. You loved him for it.”
Stahl was also a hard worker who was always fun to be around, said Brenna Avinelis, a Latin American and Iberian studies graduate student who worked with Stahl as UCen Catering manager.
“He was a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day,” Avinelis said. “No matter what mood anyone was in, he could make them smile with a joke or his good mood. He loved people and loved life.”
Stahl was consistently dependable and always made an effort to succeed at everything he did, Avinelis said.
“It didn’t matter what kind of day he was having, he put his heart into everything he did,” Avinelis said.
The funeral will be held Thursday evening in Stahl’s hometown of Cupertino, near San Jose. Wilkins said Stahl’s friends and roommates are hosting a bonfire on Friday in his honor, and those who are interested in attending should contact Jwilkins22@hotmail.com for more information.