Family of teen killed in post-graduation altercation remembers him as a 'beautiful spirit'

Pictured is 16-year-old Nico Limongello. The Limongello family never thought they'd have to hear the news their son was killed in a fight.

Pictured is 16-year-old Nico Limongello. The Limongello family never thought they'd have to hear the news their son was killed in a fight. (Family photo)


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HERRIMAN — The Limongello family never thought they'd have to hear the news that their son was killed in a fight.

Nico Limongello, just shy of his 17th birthday, died on May 29 from a stab wound to the chest that hit his heart.

His father, Giovanni Limongello, told KSL.com that hearing the news was "the most devastating thing a parent could ever go through."

"I miss him with all my heart. I'm sick trying to figure out how to go on, you know, without him," Limongello said. "We adore him."

The deadly fight

Limongello said he was at work when the stabbing happened, and all his family knew at the time was that Nico had gone to get food with some friends. The family knew something was wrong when they weren't able to contact Nico for several hours.

The deadly fight happened near 14901 S. Beckenbaur Avenue in Herriman after Valley High School's graduation ceremony. Herriman police say Keith Tyree McClendon and others, who were in the car driven by Nico, got out and attacked a 17-year-old, identified only as "E.D."

McClendon was hitting E.D. with brass knuckles, according to police, and at some point Nico got involved and was stabbed by E.D.

McClendon, 19, was charged with aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury with a gang enhancement, a first-degree felony; and aggravated assault, a third-degree felony. McClendon "recruited" three males to help him fight E.D., who he had an ongoing dispute with, the charges state.

Limongello said he believes his son was a "bystander in a sense," and so he isn't sure how Nico got involved in the fight between McClendon and E.D.

"It sounds to me like Nico got caught in the crossfire and went there when he shouldn't have gone there. We wish he would've went somewhere else," Limongello said. "The next thing we knew he was on the medical examiner's table."

Limongello said it's been nerve-wracking waiting to hear more information from police as they investigate the situation, but he's hopeful police will properly charge all who are responsible.

The only thing giving the father peace right now is that witnesses from the incident told him Nico died quickly and with a smile on his face, which he hopes means Nico didn't suffer long and was "seeing the right celestial beings" when he died.

'Part of us'

The family held a memorial for Nico at the Mountain Church on Saturday. The church was "absolutely, 100% filled" with family and friends who shared memories of him for almost an hour, talking about the joy and love they felt from him, Limongello said.

"It was a very beautiful service. It was the most painful two hours I think I've ever had to sit through — seeing pictures of my son alive, and now he's gone," Limongello said.

Valley High School teacher Lisa Bybee spoke at the memorial and described Nico as "just light." She said she was so grateful she was "touched by the life of Nico" and that this is a very hard loss.

The Limongello family is now hoping Nico, from heaven, can give them the strength to go on.

"It will never be the same without him. We love him, and we miss him. He was part of us. He was born in my home; everything in my home has him. You can't go anywhere in my home where he's not there," he said.

His father said Nico was a "beautiful spirit" who lived a very full life for someone of such a young age. Nico was a black belt in karate, did well in school, was loved by teachers and had plans to become an entrepreneur.

Nico was the friend who always was driving his friends to bowling, movies, restaurants and fun outings. Limongello said Nico loved life, his friends, his family, his girlfriend and God.

Limongello said it's important for parents to make sure their kids are hanging out with the right people, but it's not always easy when they're teenagers and "have a mind of their own." It's also hard to know if someone will be a bad influence or not, he said.

No one expects this sort of thing to happen, Limongello said.

"A lot of lives were ruined that day — someone chose to stick a knife in a kid instead of just punching him in the face," Limongello said. "You don't stick a knife in a teenager's heart. (There's) a lot of devastated people right now."

A fundraiser* was made for the Limongello family to help with funeral costs.

*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Cassidy Wixom covers Utah County communities and is the evening breaking news reporter for KSL.com.

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