Despite Erik Onorato's absence, his presence was palpable at Sports Page Tuesday night.
Debbie Onorato, his mom, had chosen the rock band My Dad's iPod because they played the songs her son listened to.
His friend TJ Flores, a guitar player and vocalist, joined the band on stage and sang cover songs from Stone Temple Pilot, REM and the Foo Fighters. Flores called Erik "a master electrician" who would wire his electric guitar. "Then we'd jam," he said about his really good friend who also played guitar and bass.
Enjoying the music at the bar was Prashant Singh, who wore a gray t-shirt that read "Team Erik: Our Hero." Erik's friends had made and sported the shirts in his honor during the Wharf to Wharf run in 2012. "I ran it because he was already training for it," Singh said. "He was our friend and he would have done it for any of us." The plan to run every year.
Over and over again, the family and friends who gathered expressed admiration for the by a pickup truck on N. Shoreline Boulevard at Wright Avenue. Onorato appeared to have been out for a jog when the accident occurred.
"It's been horrible," Debbie said about the days and months since.
If it hadn't been for Erik's friends, his death would have been even more unbearable, explained his dad Greg Onorato. The Onorato family has maintained close ties with them throughout the year.
"It happened the next day after we found out he had died," said Greg. "His friends held a vigil. That's where we met these people."
Erik's friends have accompanied the Onoratos to Tahoe, on camping trips, and even spent Christmas with them. "They've kept us sane."
"There's not one weekend that goes by that we don't have one of his friends at our house," Debbie said.
At first, they didn't realize the impact Erik had on people. However, the first opportunity occurred at his funeral, when a recent Mountain View High School student gave Debbie his Robotics Club trophy. According to Greg, the guy did it because "if it hadn't been for Erik and his friends starting the robotics club at MVHS, he would have gotten in trouble and not currently be a student at UC- Berkeley."
Upon graduating from MVHS in 2006, Erik had short stints at Blockbuster and Linens and Things before landing a full-time job at the age of 21 at Loral Space and Communications in Palo Alto. He was still working there when he died.
In addition to his employment, Erik was enrolled in college and volunteered with the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. He also found time to get his pilot's license.
"He had great time management," said long-time friend Brandin Tyrell, who attended Graham Middle School with Erik.
Nariman Farsaie, Erik's flight instructor at the West Valley Flight Club since 2008, described him as a "crazy, smart kid" who got his pilot's license in 47 hours when it usually took people 65 to 70 hours.
And even though Farsaie was several years older than Erik, the two connected.
"He was a nice boy, easy to talk to, interesting, who enjoyed talking about science," he said, using expletives to describe Erik's death. "I miss him."
Erik left behind two brothers: 19-year-old Ryan and 15-year-old Jarod Onorato. Ryan shared how he misses his brother.
"When people told a joke that wasn't funny, he'd do a 'hahaha,' laugh," Ryan said. "But when he found something he would laugh hysterically."
Ryan said he wasn't surprised by the turnout of Erik's friends at the event.
Described as a smart, caring, beautiful humanitarian, Erik's positive energy influence those who met him—and they hope to keep his memory alive.
"That's why we are all here," Flores said, fresh from singing the Foo Fighter's 'Hero' on stage. "We all still love him."
More on Mountain View Patch:
- 81-Year-Old Mountain View Woman Dies Following Collision
- Coroner Identifies Elderly Woman Killed on Central Expressway
- Police Blotter: Thefts and Burglary at Kohl's
Don't miss a thing in Mountain View!