Old Globe's Prop Master Killed in Hit and Run

Seamus O'Bryan, 32, was driving his motorcycle in North Park on Jan. 31 and was fatally injured in a hit and run collision with a vehicle that fled the scene

A man who worked as property master at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park has been identified as the person killed in a hit and run crash in North Park.

According to family and friends, Seamus O’Bryan, 32, died in a head-on collision around 12:40 a.m. on Friday at University and Granada avenues.

His older brother, who lives in Phoenix, confirmed O’Bryan’s death to NBC 7 San Diego. By Friday afternoon, the San Diego County Medical Examiner's office had also identified O'Bryan as the victim of the fatal North Park hit and run crash.

The San Diego Police Department said O’Bryan was driving his motorcycle accompanied by a 31-year-old passenger. As they traveled eastbound on University Avenue, a white, 4-door vehicle – possibly a Cadillac – turned in front of the motorcycle.

The vehicles collided head-on and the car fled the scene, police said.

Both O’Bryan and his passenger were injured in the crash and were transported to Scripps Mercy Hospital.

O’Bryan’s injuries were critical and he died at the hospital a short time later, police said. The motorcycle passenger sustained scrapes, bruises, chest and leg pain, but survived.

The hit and run vehicle was last seen heading south on Granada Avenue. Police said they’re now looking for the white car, which likely has damage to the front driver’s side.

On Friday, after hearing news of the hit and run, O’Bryan’s friends took to his Facebook page to leave messages for their loved one, quickly turning his social media page into a makeshift memorial.

Among those posts, O’Bryan’s younger brother, Devin O’Bryan, wrote this:

“Still in shock as I write this…Early this morning my next older brother Seamus O’Bryan, or Raph as we in the family call him was killed on his motorcycle in a hit and run accident in San Diego”

Many posted their fond memories of O’Bryan, including one friend who wrote: “I’ll forever remember singing Irish drinking songs together around beach bonfires.”

Others wrote:

“You are a shining example of a true free spirit. Only the good die young. Rest in peace.”

“I am in shock and feel deep sadness for the massive loss of the amazing, kind and adventurous Seamus O’Bryan. My heart goes out to all of his tribe.

“I hadn’t spoken to you in years, but you were not someone I could ever forget. And I never will. Rest well. You made the world better while you were here and the folks whose lives you brightened will work that much harder to do the same now that you’re gone.”

O’Bryan had an extensive background in arts and theater.

He held residency at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, Calif., from March 2009 to June 2009, according to the Center’s website.

A biography on O’Bryan says he graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts and worked in the theater industry and arts education in several countries. The bio says O’Bryan worked with the La Jolla Playhouse, the UCSD School of Theater and Dance and a freelance photographer and video production specialist.

The human resources department at The Old Globe told NBC 7 O'Bryan was a valuable and beloved employee who worked there for three years, from January 2011 until his death. He worked as the stage and properties master, as well as on the carpenter and run crew.

The human resources department said O'Bryan also spent more than nine years working at the La Jolla Playhouse as part of the production staff, from October 2001 through December 2010.

On Friday evening, The Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse released this joint statement, in part, regarding O'Bryan's passing:

It is with great sadness and a very heavy heart that we inform you that our dear friend and colleague, Seamus O’Bryan, 32 years old, was tragically killed in a hit and run accident just after midnight the evening of January 30 in North Park. Seamus was on his way home from an opening night at The Old Globe. He was the Stage and Properties Master for the production.

Seamus began working for the Globe in January of 2011 and became the Stage and Properties Master of the White Theatre in January of 2013. He was smart, funny, dedicated and well-loved by those who knew him. His presence and friendship will be sorely missed by all at the Globe, but particularly backstage where he calmly and with great humor created theatre with actors, fellow crew-members and creative staff. An archery enthusiast, avid sailor, member of the Seaforth Sailing Club, and crew member on various tall ships, he especially enjoyed taking visiting artists sailing to enjoy San Diego’s waters. He inspired us to enjoy each moment and to care for each other.

O’Bryan was also an integral part of the La Jolla Playhouse production staff for nearly a decade. A remarkable artisan, Seamus had a hand in nearly every technical department at the Playhouse, from carpentry to props to wigs. His very first job at the Playhouse was on the running crew for Dracula in 2001 when he was just 19 years old. Since that time, he served on the production team for countless productions, including Zhivago, The Wiz, Memphis and Surf Report. His friends and colleagues at the Playhouse will remember Seamus as a true Renaissance man, who shared his indefatigable spirit, kindness and tremendous talents with everyone around him.

Seamus was a great humanitarian, generously volunteering his time and energy for a number of different organizations. With Medinet Vanuatu /The M.A.R.C Project-(Medical Aid to Remote Communities), he worked on standardizing birthing practices severely affecting two local tribes, building women’s clinic and water treatment facilities to improve their chances of survival; and served on a tall ship that assisted in transporting medical supplies to remote areas in Vanuatu. In 2010, he joined in earthquake relief work in Haiti, and has worked with Habitats for Humanity.

A Phoenix native, he is survived by his father Bert O’Bryan, mother Marty O’Bryan, and two brothers. He was preceded in death by his older brother Gabriel O’Bryan. Seamus, known to his family as ‘Raph’ for his middle name Raphael, was the third of four children of a loving Spanish/Irish Catholic family.

O'Bryan's friends told NBC 7 they planned to get together Friday night to pay tribute to O'Bryan at one of his favorite bars in Banker's Hill. Dozens got together to say farewell to their friend, drinking shots of O'Bryan's favorite drink: Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Close friend Ty Meservy said he'll forever remember the good times he had with O'Bryan.

"We all know Seamus was a man of many words," Meservy said to the group at the bar, between tears. "We all have a million stories with him. I've got some doozies. He will be sorely missed. I don't think our lives would be the same without him."

O'Bryan's passenger and friend injured in the crash was among those at the bar. Still recovering, the friend wanted to be part of the toast to a man people say made the world a brighter place.

The Old Globe's human resources department said a memorial will be held for O'Bryan at the theater at a later date. O'Bryan's family will hold funeral services for him in Phoenix.

Condolences can be sent to O'Bryan's family via The Old Globe at:

Human Resources
The Old Globe
P.O. Box 122171
San Diego, CA 92112-2171

The theater also shared this video of O'Bryan at their opening night celebration, just hours before the deadly crash. He had prepared a special, ukulele rendition of "Sea of Love" to share with cast and crew at the opening night party:

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