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Motorcycle Victim, an Aspiring Actor, Remembered for Contagious Smile

Patrick O'Dell, the motorcyclist who died in the accident with the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus in Pacific Palisades, was loved by many in L.A. and West Virginia, his hometown. He worked as a server at Gladstones.

A joker with a contagious smile, who spoke German and enjoyed entertaining, Patrick O'Dell was killed last month in a collision with a Santa Monica Big Blue Bus in Pacific Palisades.

Friends and family also described O'Dell as a dreamer who loved life. The best was yet to come for the aspiring actor, they said.

He was 25.

Funeral services were held last weekend in O'Dell's hometown of Huntington, WV. He is survived by his parents, two older brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and nieces.

O'Dell's roommate, James Lewis of Sherman Oaks, returned from West Virginia this week and said there's been an outpouring of love from Los Angeles friends.

There's a memorial on the utility pole at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Marquez Avenue, where the Nov. 20 accident occurred. Coworkers from Gladstones, where O'Dell worked as a server, as well from other restaurants he had worked for in the Los Angeles area, came together at the memorial to place flowers, cards and candles.

"He had great energy, and a smile from ear to ear," said Tony Sher, Gladstones general manager. "Everybody loved him. His tables and guests. Women threw phone numbers at him."

"When we were busy, he'd always have a smile on his face through the storms," she said.

Lewis said the trip helped heal some of the pain from the fatal crash. It's only been two weeks since the tragedy, and frustration over how the accident happened and how buses are allowed to make left-hand turns at that intersection still linger.

"He's always been a safe rider," Lewis said. "I'm curious as to what did happen."

Lewis said he met O'Dell two years ago through a mutual friend. They quickly became close friends and decided to get an apartment together.

"He’s so fun," said Lewis, who was nine years older than O'Dell. "Patrick reminds me a lot of my younger self — which is why I think we got along so well."

Lewis said O'Dell was always about having fun and making others around him happy. He said they had incredible July 4 and Halloween parties this year and loved to throw bonfires. O'Dell also loved to entertain friends, and would often read aloud from a German novel.

One day, O'Dell brought home a ton of wooden pallets claiming they could use it for firewood. Lewis said they told O'Dell they weren't useful for firewood, but the next morning, O'Dell was in their backyard with a hatchet, chopping up the wooden pallets.

Lewis said one of his favorite memories with O'Dell was getting season passes last summer to Six Flags. They would go around the amusement park and ride the rollercoasters filming everything on O'Dell's GoPro video camera.

Lewis, a bartender and actor, said O'Dell had finally gained admission to an acting class he'd been trying to get into. Lewis added he's putting together a video of some of the film they did together in class to send to O'Dell's family.

O'Dell and Lewis loved to pull pranks on each other, too. On the morning of Nov. 20, O'Dell hid Lewis' coffee cup behind a lamp. They both left for work at 10 a.m. and O'Dell got on his bike.

"I told him I'd see him that evening," Lewis said.

Growing up in West Virginia

Just before the accident, O'Dell had mailed booties to his middle brother, Ben, and sister-in-law, Ashley, who just had their third child.

Corinne Lee, fiance to O'Dell's older brother Adam, told Patch O'Dell was born in Huntington and was raised there by his parents with his two older brothers along with a huge and loving extended family.

"He was raised in a house full of love, with his dad coaching he and his brother’s little league games, and his mom staying home to raise all three," she said.

The First Presbyterian Church in Huntington also played an important part of their lives, she said.

"Between their faith in God and having a wonderfully strong family, Patrick and his brothers were raised to be, and are all, good, kind, loving and fair people," Lee said.

O'Dell followed his oldest brother’s footsteps and attended Elon University in Burlington, NC. He graduated in 2009 and moved out to L.A. soon after to pursue acting and modeling, she said, but also for a change of scenery and to experience something new and exciting.

"While his good looks and charisma kept him popular with females, he had not yet met the love of his life," Lee added. "We will all miss out on seeing him get married and start his family. He was just too young to leave us."

This note was posted on Facebook by O'Dell's parents shortly after the accident:

To all who have taken the time to post, we want to thank you from the bottom of our broken hearts. Reading your notes of love and condolences, as well as sharing your personal memories of and experiences with our "baby" Patrick, has meant so much to us during this extremely difficult time. In addition to many loving family members, Patrick had a large number of wonderful friends, co-workers and loyal supporters, both here and abroad. It is especially gratifying to know that, during these last 3 years, he continued to spread his contagious smile, caring nature, and love of life to his new West Coast family of friends.

Our faith is strong and our supporters many. While we will all mourn the loss of this wonderful and amazing son and man, it is our hope that your lives will be better for having known and loved Patrick and that his spirit and his essence of being will continue to live within each of you.

Again, we appreciate your notes, as well as your calls, texts and emails. We would ask that you continue to keep all of our family, including his brothers, Adam and Ben, in your thoughts and prayers. We will continuing praying for you and please know that our love goes out to each one of you!

A turkey trot 5K was named in O'Dell's memory following the accident, according to the Herald-Dispatch.

Working at Gladstones; Questions remain about intersection

Reese Paoletti, a bartender at Gladstones, said O'Dell's positivity rubbed off on everyone.

"His aura was just bright," she said. "He made your day better."

Paoletti also said O'Dell was never reckless and did not speed on his motorcycle. When they were making the memorial at the intersection, she said a man driving a diesel semi-truck stopped saying he was outraged and lived up the road.

"He said he'd never feel safe making a lefthand turn in his truck," Paoletti said. "He's outraged they allow the bus to do that."

At the memorial, Paoletti said a Big Blue Bus drove through.

"It gave us a shiver," she said. 

Big Blue Bus spokesperson Suja Lowenthal released a statement earlier this week as the company's internal investigation continues:

This is a tragic accident. We continue to investigate the accident and cannot provide anything further at this time.

The West Los Angeles Traffic Division of the LAPD also continues to investigate the crash. Calls to the police this week on the investigation were not returned.

RJ December 07, 2012 at 12:51 PM
....thank you Patch for posting such a wonderful commentary on a young man that left this world too soon.
Mary Fry December 23, 2012 at 05:51 AM
Thank you so much for this article on Patrick. He spread happiness to all those who met him. He will be missed. ~ Mary

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