Friends and family gathered at Natural Bridges State Beach for a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of UCSC alumnus Travis Marton, 23, who was killed in a pedestrian hit-and-run on Jan. 1. Photo by Alex Posis

On Jan. 4, hundreds of people gathered at Natural Bridges State Beach — many wearing Greek letters — to mourn and celebrate the life of their friend and brother, Travis Marton.

Marton, 23, was a victim of a pedestrian hit-and-run in Newport Beach, California on Jan. 1. Marton graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2014 with a degree in bioengineering and recently started working at a biotechnology firm in Los Angeles. Marton was a member of the fraternity Sigma Pi during his time at UCSC. The vigil was held at the beach to honor Marton’s love for scuba diving and the ocean.

“It’s important to have an atmosphere where everyone can be together and feel like family in a hard time like this,” said Philipp Schroeder, the vigil organizer and Sigma Pi brother and friend of Marton.

Many people, including Marton’s parents and two brothers, spoke of his unique personality and shared their experiences with him. The majority of those who spoke referred to him as “Ned,” the nickname given to him in reference to the film “School of Rock.”

“There may be many Travises in the world, but to us there will only ever be one Ned,” said one of Marton’s fraternity brothers at the vigil.

Marton’s booming voice and personality made him stand out among his fraternity brothers, Schroeder said.

“He was this 6-foot tall blonde guy with an incredible presence,” Schroeder said. “He could be at the opposite side of the dining hall and you would hear his voice and just know that Travis was there.”

To celebrate Marton’s passion for science and his academic achievements, Schroeder began a crowdfunding campaign to establish a science scholarship.

“We want to create a scholarship in his name so someone who is just as enthusiastic in science and biotech as Travis was will be able to experience what he experienced, whether it be research or even just funds to go to college,” Schroeder said. “That’s what Travis would have wanted.”

While the original goal was to raise $1,000, the campaign raised over $2,300 in four days. The campaign organizers extended the goal to $5,000.

“This scholarship is a great way to help others pursue the education Travis did and a way to honor the passion he had,” said fourth-year Daniel O’Shea, who took scuba lessons with Marton.

The scholarship is a way for Marton to remain a part of UCSC and it will create opportunities for others students to succeed, Schroeder said.

“Travis in two words for someone who doesn’t know him is ‘presence’ and ‘passion,’” Schroeder said. “One of the things we were talking about in our fraternity was the impact he had on everyone around him. With the scholarship, we hope to further his impact.”