David Cline. Illustration: Farrin Abbott/KQED
David Cline. (Illustration: Farrin Abbott/KQED)

David Cline, Inspiring Athlete and Brilliant Student

David Cline, Inspiring Athlete and Brilliant Student

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David Riley Cline’s smile brought joy to those around him.

The 24-year-old was a 2015 UC Berkeley graduate with a double major in cognitive and computer science. Cline attended the Ghost Ship event with his friend, Griffin Madden.

Cline’s family describes him as a ferociously brilliant student with an impossibly bright mind.

David Cline.
David Cline.

“Everyone who ever met David knows that his smile and his presence changed every person that was lucky enough to feel his warmth and light,” his family writes in a statement. “He was kind, open, non-judgmental and excited about life and people.”

Cline graduated from Santa Monica High School, where he led the men’s volleyball team to a state-wide championship. His teammate, Blake Bijari, says Cline was an incredible athlete and leader who also had a charming, goofy side.


"I remember when we would huddle up before matches, he'd hype us up,” says Bijari. “He would make these noises, and yell and scream, and no one would understand what he’s saying — but it got us all hyped up and then we'd go out and play."

Cline was also a keen clarinetist and played the instrument since second grade. His clarinet teacher, Amanda Jane Walker, shared a reminiscence of Cline on Facebook. Walker once asked her students to write their biographies for a recital, and Cline wrote that he was looking forward to a summer of, “spending time at the beach, enjoying the sunshine with his friends, and observing a variety of aquatic mammals.”

“David was an incredible man, an amazing brother, a perfect son and an inspiring friend to everyone who was fortunate enough to have him in their lives,” his family says.


For more of our tributes to the victims of the Oakland warehouse fire, please visit our remembrances page here.

For a printable poster of the illustration above, see here.