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San Bruno community honors its ‘Champ’ : Bernabe Lactawen was struck and killed last Sunday
July 14, 2014, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

Nick Rose/Daily Journal
People gather to remember Bernabe Lactawen, who was struck by a car and died on Sunday, July 6, during a memorial walk in San Bruno Friday night.

Bernabe Lactawen

Bernabe Lactawen, also known as “Champ” or “Batman,” is being remembered for his impact on the San Bruno community after he was stuck and killed by a car while crossing the street Sunday, July 6.

Lactawen, 57, was known for frequently waving at passersby and there has been an outpouring of support for his family following the death. Friday night, “Wave and Walk for Bernabe ... San Bruno’s Champion” through San Bruno was held to honor Lactawen by getting a group together to walk and wave at every single person the group passed. There were two walk routes in San Bruno, a shorter one for those who can’t walk far and a longer one for those that can, stopping at Lactawen’s house to say a prayer. Following that, the group went to BJ’s for a reception, followed by karaoke at Newell’s Cocktail Lounge.

Victoria Sciacqua, who organized the walk, knew him through walking her kids to school. He would wave at them every morning as they walked on Oak Avenue. The family got to know him in passing for about 14 years.

“He just had a way of making you smile even if you were having the worst day ever,” she said. “He smiled at you, he waved at you, he called you his friend. He made a lot people happy just by being himself.”

Sciacqua heard the news of his passing Sunday night.

“It upset us all,” she said. “It just came to me the next day: maybe as a family we should wave at people up and down El Camino. I thought I would create a Facebook event to get a few more friends. I had no idea it would get as big as it has; it kind of just snowballed.”

The Facebook event for the walk had about 150 attendees RSVP yes.

“Everybody knows him,” said Shirley Bayne, who was raised in San Bruno. “He was a genius. He was just so kind. He shows how remarkable of a city San Bruno is. It has completely embraced him and taken care of him for so long. His passing has impacted a lot of people and hopefully his passing will inspire people to keep up the kindness.”

Lactawen, who was a special needs person and lived with his sister, was known for his catch phrases such as “buy one,” “man” and “come to Newell’s for karaoke.” He loved dancing. He would wave and point at people and say “my friend,” Bayne said. He frequented San Bruno restaurants BJ’s and Hooters. Lactawen was also a sports fan, cheering team jerseys of those he passed by.

Initially, Newell’s bartender Ashif Hakik found Lactawen’s behavior off-putting.

“Being a nighttime bartender, it was pretty interesting coming in and seeing him scope me out the first time I came in,” wrote in an email. “Pint glass of Coke in hand, he sat at the far seat opposite the bar, near the jukebox and stared me down as I walked in and into my shift. I looked at the day tender and gave the cockeye and head nod, asking ‘what that was all about?’ and immediately I got a smile back from her saying ‘Oh, he’s harmless! That’s Bernabe.’ Over the years. I’d poured Bernabe enough Coke to drown a giant ant hill.”

Hakik said he watched Lactawen charm even the most stubborn self-centered patrons with a smile and “oohhh man!” with a laugh after. 

“Something that transcended what some call normal interaction, and at the same time brought to light the limits we put on social interaction,” he wrote. “He broke stigmas, with a hearty ‘my friend!’ every night. Showing how looks can be deceiving, and that the look he gave me deceived me. That it wasn’t a scope-out of me, or of judgment. That it was a look that he was aware of what judgment is. That he wanted to break through that, and find a way to be my friend. Because to him, that’s all he wanted everyone to be.”

The San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office identified Lactawen who was crossing El Camino Real at Jenevein Avenue against a red light around 3:45 p.m. Sunday, June 10 when he was hit by a car, according to police.

Although Lactawen was within a crosswalk when he was hit, he was known to wander out into the street without looking, San Bruno police Lt. Troy Fry previously said.

Emergency responders transported Lactawen to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died from major head injuries a short time later, according to police.

The driver involved in the collision, a Tracy resident, was not arrested or cited and investigators do not believe drugs or alcohol were a factor. The collision remains under investigation, according to police.

Because of the sudden death his family needs help raising funds for his memorial. You can donate at gofundme.com/b9lx5g.

angela@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105

 

 

Tags: lactawen, bruno, people, friend, known, police,


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Burlingame preps for main library construction: Upgrades aimed to fit 21st-century needs; project to start Aug. 11
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