The family of local manicurist Tony Vo is left to grieve after his body was found Oct. 13, washed up on shore at Kalgin Island, Alaska.
The Alaska State Troopers used dental records to confirm that the body was Tony Vo,’s and notified his family last week.
“I don’t know how he got there,” said his mother, Tina Vo.
She said the state troopers told her they think her son arrived in Alaska sometime around Sept. 7, but they are still investigating what happened to him in the meantime.
She also said she knew he was going on vacation, but when she didn’t hear from him she thought he just hadn’t had a chance to call her. She was not sure why he was in Alaska, and didn’t know that he planned to travel there.
“It’s hard for me and hard on the whole family,” Tina Vo said.
She said the family had been notified that the autopsy revealed the probable cause of death was drowning, but they have no official answers yet.
“In the future we may hire a private investigator,” Tina Vo said. “Right now we are just shocked by it, though. I can’t believe it happened that way.”
Tina Vo said that her son, who worked as a manicurist in the family business Q Nails and Spa, was loved by everyone who met him. She said he had a loyal group of customers who really liked him and came back repeatedly.
“He had a warm heart,” Tina Vo said. “I don’t know why God chose him.”
The family moved from San Jose to Paso Robles in 2004, and opened Q Nails and Salon on Broad Street. Tina Vo said her son lived in San Luis Obispo, while the family lived in Paso Robles, where their two younger children attend high school.
The family traveled back to San Jose on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week to attend the funeral, closing its shop. Customers were informed of the shop being closed and where the family was by a sign left on the door.
One of Tony Vo’s longtime customers, Susan Monteiro, said she was shocked when she learned the news. Her mother brought her a copy of The Tribune with the story, knowing that Monteiro was a frequent customer at the salon.
Monteiro said she had known Tony Vo was on vacation, because his mother had told her, but was struck by the news of his death.
“Tony was awesome,” Monteiro said. “I really enjoyed his work and his personality.”
She described him as a shy but very kind person, who was dedicated to his work.
“They’re a kind, loving, hardworking family and I feel for them,” Monteiro said. “It is a very hard time for them right now.”
James Vo, Tony Vo’s father, refused to comment on what happened to his son. Tina Vo said he was upset and did not want to speak about it.
Tony Vo is survived by his parents, James and Tina Vo, and by a brother, Sonny, 17, and sister, Jennie, 16.
The Alaska State Troopers are currently investigating his death, and ask that anyone with information about his time in Alaska contact them at 907-262-4453.