When he was 9 years old, Wolfgang Wyatt Forbes took the money from his piggy bank to buy plants at a nursery to create his own little garden.
That was a beginning in his lifelong passion for nature and the outdoors, his mother Diana Stoneberg recalled. It was a passion that continued into adulthood and his work as a geologist who was often assigned field studies researching bedrock, streams and wells.
Forbes was doing what he loved when he died.
The 23-year-old San Luis Obispo resident was killed earlier this week in a rollover crash while he was off-roading in his 1986 Suzuki Samurai on the Stair Step Summit Trail in the Pozo OHV Area, the California Highway Patrol said.
"He was always into nature," Stoneberg said. "He was just a nature guy. And he was an incredible musician. He loved to play the blues. He played the drums and lead guitar. We're just devastated."
Named after the classical composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his family called him "Wolfy" during his youth. His mother said he was a "dead ringer for a Matt Damon" lookalike.
An only child and a 2012 Arroyo Grande High School graduate, Forbes overcame alcoholism at the age of 18. After five years of sobriety, he remained active as a leader in a local alcohol anonymous group, she said.
He went on to graduate from Northern Arizona University in geology with a 3.5 grade point average, and after college he returned home to be closer to his father and hometown friends. He had worked at San Luis Obispo-based Cleath-Harris Geologists since November 2016, said Tim Cleath, the company's president.
In his spare time, Forbes enjoyed hiking, backpacking and exploring for rocks. Adventures in nature weren't uncommon, according to family members.
"He often did excursions alone," said his uncle Jerry McNabney of San Diego. "I'll remember him as a great musician and a peaceful soul. He could really play guitar, and we'd often jam when he came down here to San Diego to visit."
The crash took place after Forbes failed to negotiate a steep descent on the rocky trail, and his vehicle rolled onto its roof, according to CHP.
Forbes, who was not wearing a seat belt, was partially ejected from the vehicle and died, CHP Officer Patrick Seebart said.
Forbes was not discovered until Tuesday, when two off-duty firefighters who were riding motorcycles in the area came across the crash site, the CHP said.
Cleath said that Forbes didn't come into work Monday, and they called him but didn't get a response. When he didn't come in again Tuesday, they knew something was wrong.
Forbes' father reported him missing to the San Luis Obispo Police Department on Monday, according to CHP.
Stoneberg said her son often went rock exploring, calling him a "rock hound," and his work took him to remote places throughout the Central Coast.
"He had a lot of energy," Cleath said. "Much of his work was in the field, looking at rocks and mapping out geology, taking samplings of wells or doing pumping tests — from Solvang to Paso."
Cleath said Forbes had a bright future ahead of him and was considering going back to school to earn a graduate degree.
Forbes was planning to lead a field trip on fossils off Shell Creek Road near Highway 58 (south of Shandon) next week for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Cleath said.
Cleath-Harris closed its office Wednesday to mourn, and prepared a scrap book for his family.
"He was a fast learner who had been soaking up everything here," Cleath said. "He was a good man, an adventurer and had a strong work ethic."
His mother said she'll remember her son for his compassion and kind-natured spirit.
"I remember when Wolfgang saw that a kid he knew was being was bullied quite a bit," Stoneberg said. "Wolfgang also was bullied, too. He took the kid aside and helped him."
A memorial will be held for Forbes, open to the public, at 1 p.m. Saturday at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at 2201 Lawton Ave. in San Luis Obispo.
A candlelight vigil, also open to the public, will be held after the City Lights-Young People AA meeting in San Luis Obispo at around 11 p.m. Friday. The event will take place at 560 Higuera Street, Suite E.