Nick Piacentini, a second-year psychology major, was found dead in Goleta on March 9. The cause of death is unknown, pending a toxicology report.
Lt. Brian Olmstead of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol said law enforcement and fire medics were called to Piacentini’s home in Goleta after his roommates discovered him in his bed. Piacentini was unresponsive to their attempts to wake him.
While Piacentini’s death is still under investigation, Olmstead said that it appears to have resulted from an accidental overdose. Olmstead could not confirm whether the overdose was due to drugs or alcohol.
Evan Hershberger, a second-year psychology major, said she met Piacentini in high school but became closer to him during college. She said that the news of his death was a tragic shock.
“He was that kind of person that I could just kick it with and talk about anything,” Hershberg said. “I know he won’t be forgotten and is missed very much by his friends and family.”
Taylor Brinckerhoff, one of Nick’s friends from high school, said he was a positive person and had an amazing musical talent.
“Nick was a real shot of life,” Brinckerhoff said. “He was always so positive and had a lot of fun just living. The few times I saw him play guitar I was blown away by the fact that he played with such ease.”
Joey Tanzer, a third-year business economics major, said he met Nick through a high school YMCA Youth and Government program. Piacentini, he said, had a vibrant personality.
“Anyone will tell you that Nick always had a smile on his face,” Tanzer said. “If Nick was there, it was impossible to have a bad time because the kid would always try to make every situation as fun as possible.”
Sarah Manasen, a second-year pharmacology and biopsychology major, was Nick’s hallmate from freshman year. She said she would often find herself in Nick’s room talking about music and life.
“He was always one of the guys you would go to if you wanted to have a good time,” Manasen said. “He would always turn everything into a good time and always make you smile.”
Growing up, Piacentini was involved in many school activities, sports and music. His father, John Piacentini, said that playing the guitar was his primary passion.
“He was a very vibrant, very social kid,” Piacentini said.
John Piacentini said that a memorial service was held for his son in Santa Monica on March 17 and his friends from UCSB gathered together to remember Nick during finals week of Winter Quarter.
Piacentini was also a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, which was suspended five years ago for providing alcohol to minors and purchasing alcohol with chapter funds. The fraternity is currently attempting to be reinstated into the Interfraternity Council. IFC President Andrew Irwin said it was unlikely that Piacentini’s death would affect the fraternity’s possible reinstatement.
Piacentini said that he hopes UCSB students learn an important lesson from his son’s death.
“He was doing what a lot of other students do, it could happen to anyone,” Piacentini said. “That’s important for everyone to realize.”
Piacentini is survived by his parents, two younger brothers and younger sister.