By all accounts, Michael Spencer Bonanomi, 35, was a great guy—a decent musician, a regular dude, a gentle man with a big heart.
And so, the last moments of his life seem so unfair, so tragic.
On Saturday night, he was alone. He was a little drunk, he was a little hungry.
He bought a sandwich. At nearby Jerry’s Deli? The all-night Subway? Not sure.
He sat down on the curb to eat it, and at exactly 11:42 p.m. just before midnight, he got up to walk across the street.
Anyone who knows this area of Ventura Boulevard knows it as the Coldwater Curve. It’s where Hallmark Channel is located on the hillside of the street. It’s where the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus bowl at PINZ on the Los Angeles River side of the street.
It’s where houses fell down the hill during a landslide a few decades ago, and where some businesses have been going on for more than half a century.
It’s also a dangerous curve, on an otherwise very straight road that borders the south end of the San Fernando Valley and is the busiest business district in the area.
At 11:42, Bonanomi tried walking across the street, according to witnesses, and was not in a crosswalk. He wasn’t a careless guy. Alison Widdoes recalls how he recently made sure she got a bike light so she would be safe at night. A white Mercedes traveling eastbound hit him.
He was dragged down Ventura Boulevard for nearly 100 yards—almost a football field. He died at the scene. The car never stopped.
“He was struck by an eastbound white Mercedes and carried almost 100 yards --about a football field," said Los Angeles Police Sgt. Bill Kelly. Emphasizing the length only adds to the horror of it.
“I don't think anyone here would hit someone in their Mercedes and carry him the length of a football field on their hood, then leave him to die on the side of the road,” posted a longtime friend named Jim, who goes by the handle Kinewave on SurferMag.com. “We are all in this together. Please don't drive drunk, don't text while driving, and be careful out there....”
Jim doesn’t go online very much. But, he was motivated to sign in and post something on Monday.
For a few days, some of Bonanomi’s friends weren’t sure it was him in the accident. Police released a different, misspelled last name. They said he was from Santa Monica (where he frequently played in clubs along the beach), rather than Studio City. Some friends didn’t know he was 35. Some of them knew him as “Mikey.”
When the corrected name was posted on Studio City Patch, friends and family wrote in.
Pierre Martin sent a photo to Patch (see it in the gallery above):
“Here is a pic I took of Michael during a concert in Santa Monica early February 2013, where many musicians played, and appreciated his talent and positive outlook on music and all things life. He will be greatly missed.”
There is a YouTube video of him playing in a jam session with friends (see above in the photo gallery).
His cousin, Heather, writes: “RIP Michael. You will be missed!”
Alison Widdoes says: “The tunes you played, and sang, the
weekends you enjoyed, the convos we had across balconies- your joy for life
soared across our complex and touched me. You enjoyed life, touched mine, and
you will be missed. Keep jammin' out in heaven.”
Fellow musician, Son H. Vo, says, “Much love for our musician friend. He will missed dearly but stay in our hearts forever. There are many musicians I'm sure I can speak for right now. Love and prayers to Mike's family as well. So sorry.
And Diana Lee writes: “I just heard about this on the news and am shocked and deeply saddened. Michael was a childhood friend of my daughter's as his family lived across the street from us at the time. I called her hoping I had mis-heard the announcer...but confirmed it by Google which led me here. My deepest condolences to Bob, Eve and Jimmy....so very, very sorry.”
The white Mercedes Benz CLS may be new and had have had black paper plates with “Encino” written in yellow on them, investigators said. See a similar photo in the gallery above. The car will have major front-end damage, and was last seen going east on Ventura.
Anyone with information about the incident was urged to contact LAPD Detective Fredo at (818) 644-8037, or Detective II Deaton at (818) 644-8035 during normal business hours.
Longtime PINZ bowling coach Barbara Lee was interviewed by a local TV station, and seemed a bit shaken. She was coaching her league of kids earlier that day at the bowling alley and was concerned that careless drivers could have hit one of her students.
Just a few miles toward Encino, just an hour later, on Ventura Boulevard, west of Kester Avenue in Sherman Oaks, 23-year-old Ernesto Melendez was hit at a valet stand when a car plowed into the open door of his Ford Focus. That was a hit-and-run driver in a silver Hyundai sedan.
Ernesto was pronounced dead in the hospital on Sunday afternoon.
One of Mikey’s friends wrote on the Surfer site:
“I live down the street from there. Sorry for your loss. Sadly, Ventura blvd becomes a noisy racetrack at night after newb hollywood types get that first big paycheck and buy an expensive vanity vehicle.”
And Jim memorialized his friend by writing:
“I have never known a finer human being. He was
friend to all. If you would have met him, you would have been his friend,
period. He was loved by many, and will be deeply missed by all.
“So I'm putting this out there....please pass it along if you're so inclined. Someone knows who this driver is. Though probably not one of us . . .
“My friend. RIP Mikey B....I love you man.”
Also see:* Hit-and-Run Victim Identified as Studio City Musician…
* UPDATE: Man Dies After Hit-and-Run in Sherman Oaks
* More Details in Studio City Hit-and-Run Death
* Santa Monica Man Killed in Hit-and-Run on Ventura Boulevard
* Police Seek Help in Hit-and-Run at Studio City Intersection