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Crash Victim Always Made Them Laugh

During a memorial for Bryan Ferguson, friends recall the 21-year-old's "contagious laugh," violin skills and fearlessness.

Even those who had falling outs with their smiling, suntanned friend showed up Saturday for what Pastor Mark Fitter called Bryan Dakota Ferguson's "graduation ceremony."

"It just sucks, because he was such a great guy," friend Keenan Duran said of

The two met in third grade: Ferguson was the first friend Duran made upon moving to the area from Mexico. "We became so close. In high school, we spent almost every day together. ... We didn't speak for the past year—but I still love him."

The end of life is just a transition, Fitter assured Duran and the hundreds of others who attended Saturday's memorial service for Ferguson, who was remembered for his "contagious laugh" and "big, beautiful smile."

"Today we are here to celebrate the life of Bryan Ferguson and his graduation into eternity," Fitter said from behind a lectern at .

Ferguson, who was earning an AA degree at Saddleback College at the time of his death, grew up skateboarding, bodyboarding, surfing and playing practical jokes. Always athletic, he played soccer and baseball, then in high school at Dana Hills ran cross country and competed in lacrosse.

He played the violin beautifully, spent hours perfecting skateboard tricks and displayed an affection for reptiles, Fitter said. Between ages 10 and 13, Ferguson served as a junior lifeguard, and he loved hiking and cooking, especially for other people.

Fitter delivered his eulogy while flanked by two pictures of the Dana Point resident.

One, in black-and-white, showed Ferguson in a plaid, flannel shirt, looking into the distance. The second featured the same gaze on Ferguson's face as he sat shirtless on the beach.

Fitter also read from a letter written by Ferguson's father, Jeff, to the eldest of his two sons: "Bryan, I am at a loss for words for how much you meant to us. Your time here on Earth wasn't long enough for any of us. I'm missing you."

Although Ferguson was the one "graduating," said he was more like a teacher. "Always the loudest person in the room," he pushed his friends to do 360s on their snowboards when they were too scared, and encouraged his girlfriend to go to college.

"I remember [him] telling me: '2012 can bring it, because I'm not afraid of death,'" girlfriend Natalie Williams said.

Ferguson always made his friends laugh. He was passionate and strong, and always stood his ground, whether it was about what "we should eat for dinner or the Celtics," Williams said.

"I miss everything about you," she added. "I miss you chasing me around the house like a monster."

A video slideshow depicted Ferguson with a full head of dark hair even as a baby. There were images of him wrapped in blankets in the delivery room, cradled by his father in scrubs. Photos flashed on the screen of him carrying a surfboard over his head, riding motorcycles and jumping waves on jet skis as a child.

During the eulogies, one friend said he was nervous about speaking in front of so many people, but remembered Ferguson taught him to "not let fear run your life." He learned from Ferguson "common decency, which really isn't that common."

Another said he looked forward to seeing Ferguson again, where he would "show us all the cool things we can do in Heaven."

DO August 28, 2011 at 04:05 PM
It was a wonderful service but sad at the same time. He will be missed by all but his shinning spirit lives on in all of us. Thank you Bryan Dakota Ferguson for being you.
Keenan Duran September 01, 2011 at 03:53 AM
To the author of this article, You were not allowed to be in this service. How dare you exploit my friends and I. My words were taken out of context and what you wrote can be misinterpreted. I feel offended and deeply saddened by your invasion of privacy. Why don't you let the families mourn in privacy and stop exploiting this tradgedy. Those of us who truley knew them both do not place blame. Please stop this media circus. Have a heart. To those of you who post comments on this site; please have the guts to use your real names and don't hide behind a "screen name" if you have something to say. If you wish to remain anonymous, then stay anonymous and keep your comments to yourself. Pease be kind and considerate, Heaven forbid any of you are ever in their shoes. God Bless Bryan and Alex
Jessica Flores September 01, 2011 at 04:06 AM
To the patch and Jenna Chandler. It is a sad and pathetic reality that I have to even make a comment like this but unfortunately you went as low as you could and brought this upon yourself. Your slander and the anger you have put in MANY of our hearts is the furthest thing from what any of us need during our time of mourning. Your lack of respect and integrity, and complete and utter disregard to the wishes of a family who just lost their son is honestly sad. Do you feel good exploiting our pain for your gain? Crashing a funeral so you can make it appear as if people willingly participated in an open interview with you. Now please leave us alone, stop using our personal tragedy as a means for media attention or I promise you, you will have a fight on your hands. We do not appreciate your slander whatsoever. Like Keenan said anyone that has an opinion voice it but do not hide behind a computer screen.
Kellie Duran September 01, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Jenna Chandler - Crashing a funeral is crossisng the line. Your comments appear as if you interviewed those who spoke at the funeral when clearly YOU DID NOT! Were you using a tape recorder? How low are you willing to sink for a story? You took many things said out of context.
Kellie Duran September 01, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Well said Jessica!
Alberto Barrera September 01, 2011 at 06:23 PM
Reality check, there is no slander or lies anywhere in this article against Mr.Ferguson or any of the attendees. This article speaks from a 3rd person point of view describing the event and the comments made that day, placing those comments to fit the flow, not out of context.
marcopolo September 02, 2011 at 01:39 AM
Thank you Alberto! I thought the story was beautiful and touching and was so confused when people were getting up in arms about it...I thought the story did a great job of showing the community how much this kid meant to people and the influence he had on so many people's lives...Such a sorrowful and tragic event, the loss of this soul, but no one should be attacking the reporters for sharing the light of this young man's life with the entire community.
Jo Anne Ferguson October 18, 2011 at 04:37 AM
marcopolo, you're forgetting one important fact - Jenna Chandler and Jeff Antenore or anyone for that matter from the Patch News, were not invited to my son's private service. This was a time for us to grieve together and say goodbye to a son, brother, and friend, not a media event. It was in poor taste to photograph mourners as the poured their hearts out. It was intrusive and I am truly sickened by your exploitation. I pray none of you will ever have to suffer the loss of a child and then have some insensitive reporter exploit your pain. Jo Anne Ferguson
Me August 21, 2012 at 11:49 PM
There's a special place in hell for anyone who would invade family and friends at a time like this. You should look for a real job and one that doesn't involve your need for a reality show. Pathetic!!!!

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