Hard-working. Conscientious. Family-oriented. These are some of the memories left behind by fourth-year Ulisses Fonseca who died in a car accident on June 24. He was 21.
The accident took place sometime before dawn on Highway 17 near Pasatiempo Drive, where Fonseca’s Honda Civic was later found. It is believed that the speed of the car and the wetness of the road factored into the crash, according to the California Highway Patrol. Fonseca was declared dead at the scene.
At UCSC, his loss has particularly touched the individuals he worked with in the Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) department.
“He was extremely well-liked and respected by everyone here and his passing hit our staff awfully hard,” said TAPS parking manager Andrew Klein. “My staff tells me he was always very positive and optimistic, and they were impressed by how hard working he was.”
George McCombie, TAPS groundskeeper, worked closely with Fonseca — who was initially part-time through the school year, and then full-time during the summer — for close to a year.
“We work intimately,” McCombie said. “We normally have a small crew of five or six, and during the summer there are only three or so. In this environment, you get to know people very well in a short period of time and we worked together quite a bit.”
In their time working together, McCombie had come to know Fonseca as a “balanced” individual, one who was at times serious and dedicated, but also had a lightness about him. Sean Campbell, a fourth-year who worked alongside Fonseca for a year, knew him as a hard worker.
“He was really dedicated,” Campbell said. “He was one of those guys that doesn’t just do things on a whim — he did what he wanted and he stuck with it.”
Fonseca majored in earth sciences and to both McCombie and Campbell, it was clear Fonseca had a promising future.
“He really valued his education and I think it was because of his history of work,” McCombie said.
While working full-time for TAPS during the summer, Fonseca also spent weekends contributing time to the Contra Costa Certified Farmers Market (CCCFM). After hearing about his passing, the CCCFM released the following statement on their Facebook.
According to the statement, “Everyone at the markets knew this young man, maybe not by name, but certainly by his infectious smile and gentle demeanor. In the CCCFM family, Ulisses Fonseca was a fast learner, hard worker, never said no to a challenge.”
McCombie remembers asking Fonseca what he did for his 21st birthday. Expecting to hear that he had gone out for a pub crawl to drink with his buddies, Fonseca told McCombie that he spent the day with his grandmother and godmother. McCombie says that conversation gave an insight as to what kind of personality Fonseca had.
“To me he was a student worker who had showed exceptional character,” McCombie said. “He will be really — he is very much missed.”
Campbell also attested to the importance of family in Fonseca’s life, as well as his character.
“He went home every weekend to visit his mom, and his grandma was sick for a little bit, so he would go back to help take care of her,” Campbell said.
Memorial services were held for Fonseca on July 5 at the Ouimet Bros Concord Funeral Chapel and were open initially to family only and then the public. The service was followed by a vigil.
McCombie, who attended the service, said there were roughly 15 to 20 UCSC students in attendance who came to express their condolences for Fonseca’s family.
“It was clear he came from a very loving family and he was strong in the Catholic church,” McCombie said. “Even the pastor choked up giving his eulogy — I’ve never heard that before.”