A young life mourned: Family remembers Justin Spisak

Justin Spisak and his girlfriend Sarah Nowlen.
Justin Spisak and his girlfriend Sarah Nowlen.

Justin Spisak’s loved ones struggled to tell their fondest memory of him because, they said, it was too difficult to pinpoint just one.

“There’s that saying, ‘He’ll give you the shirt off his back.’ That’s literally him,” said one of his three sisters, 18-year-old Merisha Spisak of Morro Bay. “He had this sense of caring about him. You just felt like he was always there. He was the first one to stand up for you.”

The 21-year-old San Luis Obispo man died at a North County home Friday after declining medical aid when the truck he was driving rolled into a ditch Thursday night just south of Atascadero.

Authorities haven’t said why Spisak decided to forgo help. His family is left with many questions, said his aunt, Sheri Hogue of Reno, Nev.

Spisak apparently went to bed after the accident and didn’t wake up Friday morning, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Officials haven’t commented on the cause of his death. An autopsy is scheduled for today, and the results are due back in the upcoming weeks, officials said.

Spisak lost control of the Chevy Blazer he was driving after the trailer it was towing started whipping back and forth, CHP Officer Bill Irons said.

Hogue said the home where Spisak was discovered belonged to a coworker, she said. That business is possibly a tree chipping or maintenance service he recently became involved with, she said.

The CHP hasn’t said whether the crash was work-related, but officials said the Blazer wasn’t Spisak’s and was registered to someone else.

Positive role model

Spisak’s sister and his girlfriend declined to talk about the unanswered questions surrounding his death, saying the incident was too emotionally difficult to discuss.

Instead, they described a young man who never dwelled on the past, looked to the future and spent each day in between focusing on the people he loved.

“He was the type of person that when he hugged you, he really hugged you,” said his girlfriend, Sarah Nowlen of San Luis Obispo. “You knew he actually cared.”

Whether it was a tickle fight with Nowlen, a bear hug for his sisters or downtime with his dogs, their story was one of admiration.

Since graduating in 2006 from San Luis Obispo High School, where he wrestled and played football, Justin Spisak branched out into the community.

The 6-foot Spisak was an avid fitness buff, always outside or at the gym. He loved working with his hands.

“He was always taking apart something just to see if he could put it back together,” said his sister Merisha. “And he always could.”

Whether it was making arrangements to attend Cuesta College for welding classes or thinking up his next business plan, the young man with the entrepreneurial spirit always had something going on, Nowlen said.

“He was always doing five things at a time,” she said. “He had that business mindset.”

He loved rock music and, occasionally, an older country song, “though he wouldn’t admit it,” Nowlen said with a small smile. His belt buckle, jeans and boots will always be “iconic images of him,” she added.

Justin Spisak is one of four children of Mike Spisak of Arroyo Grande and Twila Spisak of Morro Bay. His sisters include Makinzy, Merisha and Micaila Spisak.

“My brother lost his best friend. He loved him very much,” Hogue said of the father and son bond.

A private memorial is planned.