It was only about a week ago when Vincent Mack gathered with his family at the Heritage Ranch home he shared with his parents to celebrate the holidays.
“We Skyped with my sister and just had everyone together,” said one of his older sisters, Nicole Mitchell, 30, of Eugene, Ore.
But on New Year’s Day, Mack, 21, was killed after his car drifted across Nacimiento Lake Drive and struck a large oak tree just before 9 a.m.
On Wednesday, family and friends were still in tears at the home of Cheryl and Dennis Mack as they described a young adult on track with a career to help others.
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“He was a fabulous brother, very loving,” said his older sister Jennie Hawthorn Mayes, 33, of Vida, Ore. “I was 12 when he was born, and I adored him.”
Authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash. Autopsy results are expected next week, according to the CHP. Mack had been driving home after spending time with a friend in Paso Robles the night before.
Hawthorn Mayes said Mack often traveled to be with his two sisters, his brother and his many cousins over the years. He was excited to attend Monday’s Rose Bowl game in Pasadena with his brother, Edward Mitchell, 28, of Seal Beach.
On his down time, Mack loved to surf, run and be outdoors.
“He was an all sports kind of guy. He had a very full life,” Hawthorn Mayes said of the 2008 Paso Robles High School graduate.
There, Mack was in the marching band, playing the trombone and percussion. He also served as an advanced peer counselor at the school, played baseball and was involved in 4-H Club. He then became a volunteer firefighter with Cal Fire. He planned to begin Cuesta College’s EMT program this month.
“He wanted to spread his knowledge and how to prevent fires,” said friend Sara Gorman of Atascadero, who trained with him at the Cal Fire Wildland Academy two years ago.
Nicole Mitchell, who shares the same birthday with Mack, but nine years apart, recalled one of her favorite moments last week when he took her to the Heritage Ranch Cal Fire station. He let her sit in one of the fire trucks and explained his work.
“I feel blessed to have spent the last week of his life with him,” she said.
Mack always looked for ways to lend a hand. When he was a security guard in the Oak Shores neighborhood near Nacimiento Lake, he started a children’s club to provide weekend activities for local youngsters.
“He always wanted to help. He learned that from his mom and dad,” Mitchell said.
The public is invited to two events in Paso Robles to honor Mack. The first is a viewing from 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday at 1703 Spring St. A memorial service will follow at 11 a.m. Monday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 940 Creston Road.
Donations are accepted in lieu of flowers at any Mission Community Bank or Santa Lucia Bank.