.Big Moth Forever

Benefit show in honor of fallen local hero

On Feb. 19, 2023, local musician Daniel Lamothe died while training with CalFire at an obstacle course in Ben Lomond.

“Every single day my heart breaks,” writes Dan’s mother, Kathy Lamothe, in a text message.

“He was extraordinary. My everything. My world.”

To honor Lamothe—who was the upright bass player for defunct local horror punk band Stellar Corpses and also played with a number of acts on and off like Diggin’ Trails and Dark Ride—his friends have organized what they hope to be the first of many benefit shows.

The first annual Mothfest takes place on May 31 at Moe’s Alley and features Dog Party, Dark Ride and Blitzkid, three bands near and dear to Lamothe’s heart.

secure document shredding

“It was just an obvious thing,” explains Emilio Menze, one of the Mothfest organizers, friend and bandmate with Lamothe. “To honor him each year with something he would like. And it seemed like a natural fit to have it be for charity with different themes each year.”

This year’s charity is still being decided by the family but will go to benefit local youth musicians.

“He was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Dan’s girlfriend, Cheryl Lindsey, says through tears. “I will live forever with a piece of my heart missing.”

Dan Lamothe was born at Dominican Hospital on May 28, 1984. An only child, he lived in Santa Cruz his whole life and was a very loved member of the local community. Along with being an active player in the music scene, Lamothe was a talented barber by trade. His own personal, clean-cut style made him a favorite around town.

However, with the 2020 pandemic lockdowns, Lamothe grew restless with hair cutting after seeing how a business like that could be quickly shut down. He decided to pursue fire training, hoping to give back to a community that had given him so much.

“The day before he passed away he came home and was just so proud of himself,” Lindsey remembers.

Lamothe’s official cause of death listed on the autopsy report is “Sudden unexplained death during blinded training exercise involving a confined space and self-contained breathing apparatus.” The forensic pathologist declared the manner undetermined and noted Lamothe did not sustain any significant trauma, had no prior heart problems and had just completed a pre-employment physical and cardiac stress test a few months before his death.

Now, 15 months after Lamothe’s death, questions surrounding his death remain and the pain his family and friends feel is still raw. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report on Lamothe’s death released earlier this year listed several recommendations fire training facilities should take in the future to avoid more fatalities.

Fire officials declined to comment after several attempts to get answers.

However, Kathy Lamothe says there has been no accountability for what happened to her son.

“Everyone’s so afraid to talk,” she says. “He’s my son and I can’t get any answers.”

Kathy and her husband, Lane Bennett, have also had a hard time finding any lawyers to help them with their case.

“They can’t get enough information because of the protections the fire department has,” she says. “And the length of time it would take with how much it would cost and no guarantee…nobody wants to take on the fire department.”

“It’s a fucking nightmare,” states Menze. “The worst things happen to the best people.”

For now, Lamothe’s friends and family are focusing on what they can do while they continue to search for answers, one benefit at a time.

“I cannot say how grateful I am [for Mothfest],” Kathy says. “It keeps the spirit of Dan alive.”

MOTHFEST 2024, May 31: Tribute to Dan Lamothe ft. Blitzkid, Dark Ride & Dog Party, Friday, 8pm show; $15/$20. Moe’s Alley,  1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz, moesalley.com


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

music in the park san jose
Good Times E-edition Good Times E-edition