News

Erik Onorato remembered by friends, family

Funeral service Saturday for Mountain View man, 26, struck by car on North Shoreline

Erik Onorato will be remembered as "an incredible child, an incredible brother, an incredible son and friend," his mother said on April 11, two days after the 26-year-old Mountain View resident was struck and killed by a pickup truck on North Shoreline Boulevard.

"We will miss him every day for the rest of our lives," Debbie Onorato said.

Police are still investigating the accident, which occurred just before 9 p.m., April 9, near the intersection of Wright Avenue, according to Mountain View police spokeswoman, Liz Wylie. Onorato, who was not carrying any ID, was not identified by the police until the following day. The driver, who is cooperating with the police, is not suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Wylie said.

Police are still seeking witnesses to the accident, although they located a key witness Tuesday, a woman who performed CPR on Onorato until emergency personnel arrived and took over. Despite their efforts, Onorato was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Wednesday morning, Onorato remained mostly composed as she recounted her son's virtues, hobbies and accomplishments.

"If it was outdoors, he was there," she said. "He loved boating, camping, fishing and hiking."

He was very mechanically inclined, she said. As a teenager he learned to take apart and rebuild a car. And when he was 15, on his very first flying lesson, Onorato managed to land the plane with virtually no assistance from the instructor.

"The pilot was floored," his mother recalled. "But it was just him. He just had this natural ability."

Besides earning a pilot's license and being a capable mechanic, Onorato showed an innate understanding of electronics and engineering at an early age, she said. In between building cars and impressing pilots, the teenage Onorato hacked a remote-control airplane, removing unnecessary components and installing a digital camera, which allowed him to take aerial snapshots of his native Mountain View.

With childhood friend, Brennan Lewis, in 2002 Onorato co-founded the Mountain View High School robotics team.

"Erik just had a real knack for being able to design and build things -- using his hands as well as his brain," said Edward Lewis, Brennan's father.

Lewis, a former colonel with the California Air National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing, said that Onorato was a regular at his home, working with his son on cars, remote-control vehicles and computers.

"He was just a great kid and his loss was devastating to all of us," Lewis said.

He said that Erik had managed to carve out quite a name for himself in his short time. "Erik is one of those young men that you point them in a direction and he would get it."

College wasn't in the cards for Onorato -- at least not immediately upon graduating from Mountain View High School. Still, thanks to a family friend and his aptitude for electronics, he was able to land a job with Space Systems Loral, a commercial satellite company based in Palo Alto. "Within three months he was being asked to work for three different departments," his mother said.

At the time of his death, Onorato was working toward a degree at DeVry University, his mother said.

A funeral service is planned for Saturday, April 14, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Spangler Mortuary, 799 Castro St., Mountain View.

He is survived by his parents, Debbie and Greg, and his two brothers, Ryan and Jarod.

Comments

Posted by Karen Meredith, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm

My condolences to the family during this difficult time. No one should ever have to bury their child.


Posted by Roberta, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I drive right through the area where this unfortunate tragedy took place every single day to and from work. Sometimes I'm in that area just before 9pm if I work a late shift. Since this tragedy, I've not been able to drive through that stretch of Shoreline and not think of what happened. I didn't know Eric, but he sounds like a very nice young man. I'm so terribly sorry this happened and my heart goes out to Eric's family and friends.


Posted by Rachel, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 12, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Erik Onorato was an incredible person. There is literally nothing bad that can be said of him. He was one of the most gentle hearted people I have ever known and although we lost touch a few years ago, it is still heart breaking to know that he is no longer walking among us. When he had something on his mind, or was upset about something, or even when he simply had a few hours to spend, he would bike to the airport and just sit for hours watching the planes take off and land. I find comfort in knowing that he can watch them not only take off and land, but that he can watch them fly now, always. I have been and will continue to pray for his family Debbie, Greg, Ryan and Jarod. I know that nobody can possibly imagine what you guys are going through and I will never be able to express how sorry I am for the beautiful person you, and the rest of this world, has lost. Just know that he loved you with all of himself. There was a time when he told me how grateful he was for the amazing mother and father he had, and that he wanted nothing more than for his brothers to be happy and to know that he loved them. Rest in peace Erik...you will be so greatly missed...


Posted by Cathryn, a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2012 at 1:38 am

My husband used to work with Erik's mom. We are very upset to learn this news. My heart goes out to his family. I cannot possibly fathom what you are going through. Our deepest sympathy to the Onorato family.


Posted by Leila, a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 5, 2012 at 2:04 am

I had the pleasure of meeting Erik through my husband, his flight instructor. My husband could not stop talking about what an amazing, capable pilot he was and how he loved flying him. When I first met him, I instantly got along with him. What an amazing, beautiful person. He was kind, funny and crazy smart...not to mention he had excellent taste in music! I just wish I had more time with him...that's all I keep thinking. When I heard of the news, I couldn't stop sobbing. I feel such a heavy loss. I just wish i had more time with him. He was so sweet so incredibly sweet and humble. I pray with all my heart that I will see him again someday. I never met his parents but wow, what an amazing person they raised...I don't think I will ever come across someone like him ever again. Rest in peace Erik, you will always be dearly loved!


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