Remembering Luis ‘Fernando’ Escobar Gonzalez

Luis "Fernando" Escobar Gonzalez is shown riding a wave on his board in a recent photo. Gonzalez, who died in a crash on Oct. 9, was mourned by relatives and co-workers and praised for his kindness and likability. Photo from surfboard camera

Services for Geoffrey’s employee will be Oct. 30 at Funeraria Del Angel mortuary in Van Nuys

By Barbara Burke

Special to The Malibu Times

“To know him is to love him,” a co-worker of Luis “Fernando” Escobar Gonzalez said, as Geoffrey’s Restaurant’s tight knit family of workers and customers grieve the loss of Gonzalez, 30, who died in a one-vehicle collision shortly after midnight on Oct. 9. 

The accident occurred on Malibu Canyon Road about a mile north of Pacific Coast Highway, when Gonzalez’s northbound car rolled over, struck a utility pole, and went over an embankment, according to the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Albeit brief, Gonzalez’ life was full of love, laughter, and helping others. 

“I 100 percent want it to be known that he was loved by everyone,” Keeva Beck, Gonzalez’s coworker, said as he fought back tears. “He was the kind of person who would go out of his way to help anyone. We were like brothers for two years. Every moment you spent with him, you’d learn something new — he was full of knowledge and life and love — that’s who he was.”

Luis Fernando Escobar. Photo credit Nick Simone 1
Luis “Fernando” Escobar Gonzalez poses with his surfboard in a recent photo. The popular Geoffrey’s Restaurant employee, who died in a one-vehicle collision Oct. 9, had recently learned to surf with the help of co-worker Nick Simone. Photo by Nick Simone

Like many members of Gonzalez’s family, his uncle Jose “Guate” Gonzalez, a sous chef, has worked for years at Geoffrey’s. At the time of his passing, Fernando Gonzalez was a busboy at the restaurant. His cousins, who work as pastry chefs, were the last ones to see him alive.

“He was a happy boy and I was impressed how easy he got along when he came to America from our native Guatemala as a teenager,” Jose said. “He was a hard, hard worker and he leaves behind a 12-year-old brother, Christopher Gonzalez, and his mother. I helped to raise his mother, who is like my daughter, and I helped to raise Fernando, who was like my son.” 

Losing Fernando is like losing a piece of himself, Jose said, adding that it was “pure hell” when his mother and sister brought his clothes to the mortuary. 

Jeff Peterson, owner of Geoffrey’s, who himself started working at the restaurant as a busboy, remembered Fernando as “universally liked and very hardworking and as being what anyone would want as a team member.” Gonzalez and the members of his family who work at Geoffrey’s as well as his grieving coworkers, “all are what make Geoffrey’s function smoothly,” Peterson added. 

Popular with Geoffrey’s team as well as with customers, Gonzalez always shared his “highly contagious and fun laughter,” restaurant manager Sharon Amos said. 

Those who survive Gonzalez choose to remember the fun and joyful times.

“I taught him to surf recently and he was immediately taken with the sport,” co-worker Nick Simone said. “He progressed more quickly than any other student I’ve ever had because of his newfound passion for surfing and his motivation. He was thrilled to discover the whole, vibrant ocean life and he looked forward to visiting his home country and showing his dad how he learned to surf.”

Simone said whenever he surfs where he taught Gonzalez, “It’s like he is sitting there beside me. I went a couple of days ago and despite the surf forecasts the waves turned magical.”

Stephanie Ramirez, another coworker, said, “Fernando brought warmth to everyone. He always had the biggest smile and he took care of his little brother and his mom.”

To have known him, is to love him. 

Services for Gonzalez will be held Oct. 30 at Funeraria Del Angel mortuary, located at 5940 Van Nuys Blvd. in Van Nuys, from 5 to 9 p.m. Those wishing to donate and help Gonzalez’s survivors with funeral expenses, and the expensive process of expatriating his body to Guatemala can contribute at