LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Friends say the man who died Sunday after a lightning strike in Venice was well-liked and eager to start classes at USC this fall.

Nick Fagnano, 20, was in the water when he was hit, according to the L.A. County Coroner’s Office.

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The L.A. native was taken to Marina del Rey Hospital, where he was declared dead.

He was one of 13 people in Venice struck by lightning that day.

Fagnano’s uncle, who drove down from Sacramento Monday night, was eager to share stories with CBS2/KCAL9’s Serene Branson about his beloved nephew.

“He had such a bright light, he had such a zest for life. He was the kind of kid that you just wanted to have in the room,” Fagnano’s uncle Dennis Shanahan said.

He said Fagnano was an only child with a huge smile and an even bigger heart.

“He was very tight with his family. He went to church with his mom and dad that morning,” Shanahan said.

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Kimberly Herman said she’s known Fagnano since they were in kindergarten. They graduated from Notre Dame High School and went to Santa Barbara Community College. They were recently accepted to USC: “We were so excited, and we went to the same orientation date, and we hung out all of orientation.”

Shanahan said his nephew wanted to study real estate and commercial development.

Alex Gould said he played with Fagnano on Notre Dame’s baseball team. He said Fagnano had gone to the beach with two friends and had gone into the water to rinse off some sand when the lightning struck.

“I couldn’t imagine being there and being a part of that. It breaks my heart just to think about it,” Gould said.

Herman said she struggled with the thought of starting classes at USC without her dear friend: “I didn’t think I was strong enough now to continue it. But I’m just going to do it, and I’m going to dedicate it to him, and I’m going to do it for him.”

A prayer service to remember Fagnano has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood.

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Shanahan said his family had just one message: “Parents, cherish your children, hug them tightly. Don’t let a moment go by, because you never know, a trip to the beach, a trip to this beautiful beach, and that’s it.”