ITHACA, NY – Luciano Servetto died young, but to hear his friends and family tell it, he managed to fit a whole lot of living into his 19 years.

Servetto died last week in a car crash near Horseheads, New York.

It’s telling when a person as young as Servetto can draw around 200 mourners to his remembrance. It’s clear that he touched many people’s lives.

In many cases, his impact seemed quite profound. At least three of the people who spoke at the memorial said that Luciano as “like a brother.” Another called him his “BFFFFFF.”

Those who spoke remembered Luciano as an optimist, a thoughtful friend, a driven athlete, expressive artist — and also a bit of mischief-maker. Not a person who spoke who didn’t reference the way that his big grin could brighten a day or a mood.

Luciano’s brother, Alejandro, said that Luciano would not have wanted the memorial to be a somber one. He recalled a story of how during their father’s funeral nine years ago, “there was one point where it was getting serious and someone just farted really, really loudly… and that really made it a lot better.”

Alejandro then went on to lead the assembled crowd as they collectively put their hands to their faces and made one big fart noise, which was followed by whoops, cheers and applause.

Luciano was also remembered as an adventurous spirit who inspired others to go outside of their comfort zones and push their limits. Friends recounted stories of trips to impromptu late-night exploration, getting lost for hours in New York City, trips to GrassRoots, ditching school — and figuring out how to get away with it. Friends from his swim team and friends he used to skateboard with both shared stories of his resolve and drive for self-improvement.

It seemed that Luciano also had the mind of a philosopher, and for some of those in mourning, the beliefs that he had shared may have helped cope with his passing. Alejandro referenced the philosophy of Alan Watts, a Buddhist-inspired philosopher who espoused a zen attitude.

“Conventionally, he died too young but he also died at exactly the right time, because everything in the universe is perfect,” Alejandro said. “He was another ripple in our consciousness and the ripple happens, then it leaves, it’s there from the beginning to the end at the same time.”

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.