Father: "It's Going to Be My Toughest Christmas"

Bryson Lukacik, 22, was found dead in the snow 3 blocks away from his cabin

By Katia López-Hodoyán and Michelle Wayland
|  Sunday, Dec 5, 2010  |  Updated 9:46 AM PDT
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He spent the best weekend he ever had with his son, before Bryce vanished.

He spent the best weekend he ever had with his son, before Bryce vanished.

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Before Bryce Lukacik went missing, his father says he spent the best weekend he ever had with his son. Now he’s preparing for his son’s funeral.

"It's going to be my toughest Christmas in my 54 years here," said Joe Lukacik.

It was supposed to be a great Thanksgiving weekend in Big Bear for Bryce and his family.

“We're talking about fun times. We're talking about baseball and we're talking about this and then it was like our time together on the slopes. It was just him and I,” said his father.

But things took a tragic turn.

On Thanksgiving, after snowboarding all day, Bryce fell off a chairlift in Big Bear. He hit his head, but at the time, it didn't seem like a big deal.

“I said, ‘did you hit your head hard?’ And he said, ‘no I didn't hit it hard,’ and I felt his head and it had a really small bump. Really small bump,” his father said.

After a few hours, Bryce seemed a bit disoriented and slow. Then just before midnight he walked out of the cabin wearing jeans and a sweatshirt in 15-degree weather and disappeared without a trace.

On Friday, after an 8-day search, the 22-year-old’s body was found in the snow.

“He was three blocks away from where he started out from. He was that close,” his father said.

When it was time for Joe to identify his son's body, he found some type of comfort in how calm and peaceful Bryce looked.

“It was kind of like a smile saying, ‘Dad, I'm ok. We're ok’,” Joe said crying.

Bryce is described as flamboyant, outgoing, without a bad bone in his body.

“He had the biggest heart of anyone I've ever known. He loved me more than I've ever been loved. I knew I could count on him no matter what,” said his girlfriend Holly Dargavell.

An autopsy is still pending before the body is brought back to San Diego.

A fundraiser will take place at McCarter's Bar and Grill in La Mesa to honor Bryce Sunday 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.

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