OAKLAND (KTVU) -- It was one of the most touching stories to come out of the devastating Ghost Ship warehouse fire: the discovery of a man and woman whose remains indicated that they were hugging each other in their last moments.
Michela Gregory, 20, and Alex Vega, 22, have been described as soul mates. Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern said their bodies were found in an embrace.
"It does look like the male was trying to protect the female from the fire and smoke when they were overcome by smoke," Ahern said. "The male had his arm underneath the female as if they were hugging."
Friends and family say they take comfort in knowing that the pair, who had been dating for five years, were not alone when they died. Friends and family were scheduled to hold a memorial Wednesday from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. near St. Bruno's Church in San Bruno to honor the couple.
"They were both just sincerely kind (and) compassionate individuals," said Dan Duggan, who owns and operates Duggan's Serra Mortuary in Daly City, where both Vega and Gregory worked the night shift. "When I interview people, I always look for people with a warm heart and they were just really really good kids."
Duggan is now helping their families plan the funerals for the two. Staff members, who have dealt with so much death, have been struggling to cope.
"It was very hard Saturday when I first heard," said Philip Oberst, the nighttime supervisor at the mortuary. "It was the typical, 'No, it's not us.' It has to be somebody else.'"
Friends say Vega loved cars, especially his Mazda Miata. The San Bruno native pursued the arts, from urban graffiti and painting to electronic music.
Gregory was also raised in San Bruno. She pitched for the Millbrae Softball League, attended high school in South San Francisco and studied child development at San Francisco State.
Oberst, who supervised Vega and Gregory, said the two had a strong work ethic and he misses them already.
"You kind of think I'm old enough to be their grandparent, so they do get close," Oberst said through tears.
By KTVU reporter Tara Moriarty.
List of victims released by authorities
- Jason McCarty, 35
- Wolfgang Renner, 61
- Billy Dixon, 35, of Oakland
- Johnny Igaz, 34 of Oakland
- Amanda Kershaw, 34, of San Francisco
- Ara Jo, 29, of Oakland
- Griffin Madden, 23, of Berkeley
- Vanessa Plotkin, 21, of Lakewood
- Hanna Ruax, 32, of Finland
- Nicole Siegrist, 29, of Oakland
- Alex Vega, 22, from San Bruno
- Cash Askew, 22
- Em Bohlka, 33
- David Cline, 24
- Micah Danemayer. 28
- Alex Ghassan, 35
- Travis Hough, 35
- Donna Kellogg, 32
- Edmond Lapine, 34
- Benjamin Runnels
- Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye
- Chelsea Dolan, 33, of San Francisco
- Nick Gomez-Hall, 25 of Coronado
- Michela Gregory, 20, of South San Francisco
- Sara Hoda, 30, of Walnut Creek
- Jennifer Morris, 21, of Foster City
- Feral Pines of Berkeley
- Draven McGill, 17
- Brandon Chase Wittenauer of Hayward
- Jennifer Mendiola, 35, Oakland
- Joseph Matlock, 36, Oakland