A 16-year-old Manhattan Beach boy’s death Saturday evening following a freak accident on a double-decker bus is making ripples across the tight-knit beach community that remembers his dynamic, fun-loving spirit and love of laughter.
On Thursday around 7:45 p.m., Mason Zisette was among a group of 40 on the double-decker charter bus en route to a classmate’s birthday party. According to the California Highway Patrol, the Star Lines Tour bus was traveling southbound at about 45 miles per hour on the 405 freeway in Inglewood when Zisette, who was standing up on the upper section, struck the overcrossing near Arbor Vitae Street.
He took a blunt hit to the head and was transported to UCLA Harbor General Hospital in critical condition, said CHP Officer Edgar Figueroa.
Zisette, the oldest of four siblings, was taken off life support Saturday evening. He died at 5:23 p.m.
“Our hearts are broken and we have yet to grasp the reality that he is truly gone,” his mother Amy Zisette wrote Sunday morning in an update on CaringBridge.org. “We do find comfort in knowing our sweet Mason was called to heaven and did not suffer. … Thank you for all your love and support. We miss him with every breath.”
On the website, Zisette’s page shows hundreds of messages from friends, classmates, neighbors and families. In three days, it has tallied more than 5,000 visits, just one indication of the boy’s deep and wide influence on his community.
“Mason, I’m so lucky to have called you a friend,” wrote classmate Gaelen Byres. “You never failed to make anyone laugh or smile with your hilarious dance moves or charming smile and character. You brought happiness to every room you walked into.”
“Even at the age of 3 & 4 years old, Mason was very funny with a big, dynamic personality!,” wrote the Franklin family. “To know Mason (and your family) was to love him and all of you.”
Zisette, who would have been a junior this fall at Mira Costa High School, played on the varsity tennis team since his freshman year. His father, Matt Zisette, was a pro tennis player.
Mira Costa sophomore Jeremy Chung, Zisette’s doubles partner, said the two had played club tennis together in Manhattan Beach since they were 9.
“He was just a funny, humble, outgoing guy,” Chung said. “Whenever we’d win he’d always have a big smile on his face and whenever we’d lose he’d humbly say he’s sorry for making us lose. He kept his positivity no matter what and I cherished him so much.”
Mira Costa tennis coach Joe Ciasulli remembers him as a fun-loving kid who often provided comic relief for the team. He was the “type of kid who could tease and be teased,” he said.
“He was like a big labrador retriever, but when he got on the tennis court he was all business,” Ciasulli said. “When he’s goofing around you’d wanna yell at him but you can’t because he’s so lovable.”
When the boy’s tennis season starts next January, the team will be sporting a patch on their uniforms bearing Zisette’s name. The season will be played in his name, he said.
“He’s going to be missed,” he said.
CHP is currently investigating the incident as a traffic collision, Figueroa said.