UC Davis student Vaibhev Loomba, remembered by many for his magnetic presence and leadership, died over the weekend at Zeta Psi fraternity in Berkeley. He was 20 years old.
Loomba was pronounced dead at Zeta Psi, a fraternity unaffiliated with the campus, Sunday afternoon. His cause of death has not yet been released. Friends and family are mourning a man who was popular for his charisma, talent and an unflinching sense of humor.
“He was my best friend,” said Jacob Peters, who had been Loomba’s friend since elementary school. “But there are probably 30 more people that would also call him their best friend. He was that important to that many people.”
Described as “truly brilliant” and “naturally gifted” by his sister Vishalli Loomba — a UC Berkeley alumna and former ASUC president — Loomba was in his junior year studying mechanical engineering at UC Davis. But his friends are quick to highlight his other talents.
“He was a complete go-getter,” Peters said. “He really did it all.”
In high school, Loomba was involved in student government, ran track, tutored and participated in Model United Nations. He was senior class president his graduating year.
“(He) had so many dreams and aspirations,” his sister wrote in an email. “He was a visionary. He was one of those people that everyone who met knew would change the world for the better.”
In 2013, the siblings co-founded an organization called Satyashakti that aims to empower Indian women with medical and public health education. Vishalli Loomba said the two shared a “special bond that extends far beyond that of friends or siblings.”
“He taught me that life is about the relationships you make and the people you are able to help and positively impact,” she wrote. “He was always smiling and warm.”
Hailey Westphal, one of his friends, said some of her fondest memories with Loomba were during frequent “jam sessions,” when he showed off his natural aptitude for playing guitar and piano.
“What’s more outstanding is he was the best friend anyone could ever ask for — I would call him at 3 a.m., and if it was important, he would be there,” Peters said. “And if it wasn’t important, he would be there too.”
They commuted nearly two hours every day to Diablo Valley College, where Loomba studied before transferring to UC Davis this fall. Peters said even during those long stretches in traffic, the two never ran out of anything to talk about.
“People live to 100 and don’t have as many good friends and as many good times,” he said. “He didn’t live a full life but every second he had he was doing something. And that’s what’s getting me through this.”
Hundreds of friends have since joined a memorial Facebook page honoring Loomba.
Loomba is survived by his father, Vishav Loomba; his mother, Vinki Loomba; his sister, Vishalli Loomba; and the countless friends he made at every stage of his life.
“He was on the path to greatness,” Vishalli Loomba said. “And it is such a tragic loss for my family, our community and this world that Vaibhev is no longer here to realize his vision.”
A memorial service will be held Saturday at Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist church in Walnut Creek, California, at 10 a.m.