‘We were family’: Pitt student Adam Garvin remembered as a loving, caring friend


Image courtesy of Katrina Taliani

Adam Garvin, a junior mechanical engineering major at Pitt, passed away Aug. 28 in a motorcycle accident on Route 366.

By Colm Slevin, Staff Writer

Katrina Taliani said Adam Garvin was the type of person who was comfortable around others and made friends easily. 

Taliani, a junior nursing major at Duquesne University and Adam’s roommate, said even though they didn’t go to the same school, he often hung out with her and her Duquesne friends, quickly becoming a part of the group. 

“We played those Jackbox games all night, and he was just cracking everybody up,” Taliani said. “I mean, he treated my friends like they were his friends and that’s something that’s really special to assimilate to like the rest of the group the way he could.”

Adam, a junior mechanical engineering major at Pitt, passed away Aug. 28 in a motorcycle accident on Route 366. According to the Tribune-Review, his 2015 Yamaha motorcycle collided with another driver, throwing him from his bike. 

Taliani started a GoFundMe on Aug. 29 to help Adam’s family with funeral expenses. The page raised $14,520 of its $15,000 goal so far. Rachel Wangler, a junior nursing major and another one of Adam’s roommates, credits this support to Adam’s great character. She said many people loved him, and he’s touched many lives.

“His family was just so surprised by the outpouring of support,” Wangler said. “So it really shows how strongly people felt about him he was just a really good family person.”

Renee Garvin, Adam’s mother, said the two of them were very close and liked to travel the world together. 

“As a kid, he was just the greatest,” Renee said. “It’s just him and I so we’re very close, we shared just about everything together. He loved traveling we’ve been to many trips, he’s been to Italy twice and just about all over the country and all over the world so he was a world traveler even at a young age.”

Renee said Adam was a strong offensive lineman on Plum High School’s football team. Adam played for the team until he graduated from Plum in 2019.

“I mean he was a Plum football star,” Renee said. “Plum Mustangs was what he lived for in high school.”

Adam was a musician and taught himself how to play the guitar. He also loved the outdoors. Taliani said Adam was kind and the way people spoke about him was true he really was a sweet person who only had love for everyone.

“Anything people have said highly about him is 100% true,” Taliani said. “I never heard him make fun of anybody, I never heard him be hateful or carry a grudge against anyone he was really just kind of a peaceful guy.”

Taliani said Adam was very funny and they often laughed together rather than getting emotional even during a sad movie. She recalls going to see the movie “Five Feet Apart” with Adam, and although it’s a sad movie, he made her laugh the whole time.

“It’s a pretty emotional movie but Adam and I decided to see that or for whatever reason, but the nature of our relationship was never like let’s go cry at a movie theater or let’s go get really dramatic,” Taliani said. “I remember that movie where we’re sitting there in a theater full of like crying teenagers. We were just laughing. He was cracking jokes every couple of minutes, I mean, that whole movie he made bearable by cracking jokes just being himself.”

Not only did Adam share lots of memories with his friends, but also with his uncle. Renee said that’s who gave him his love of motorcycles. 

“​​His uncle was a father figure to him,” Renee said. “His uncle started him on little mini dirt bikes at the age of five.”

Wangler said Adam spent last summer with his uncle. The two of them went on a memorable road trip down the Shenandoah Blue Ridge Parkway to the Great Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and then back to Plum. 

“This summer he did this whole trip down the East Coast with his uncle on his motorcycle,” Wangler said. “They went 2,000 miles on a road trip on his motorcycle and he just really loved being on the road and getting to see things and being outdoors.”

Renee said Adam loved riding his motorcycle because he could smell everything he rode past.

“On those types of trips, your senses are heightened because you smell everything in the air. You drive by a pizza shop and you smell the pizza,” Renee said. “When you’re in a car, you’re kind of enclosed in that you don’t really even see everything around you the way you do on a motorcycle, which is one of the reasons why he really loved it.”

Adam’s friend James Coyner, a junior business management student, said Adam was always into motorcycles and his uncle helped encourage that passion. Coyner said he and Adam even spent “countless hours” working together on a dirt bike that he ordered from Amazon. 

“Everytime I would call him he would shoot over in two minutes and we’d spend an hour working on it and we would just work in silence,” Coyner said. “I think it was his love of motorcycles that got him interested in engineering because he got to work at taking this apart and putting them back together and it made him start thinking. So he was good with putting them together and working hands on.”

Coyner said he and Adam grew up in the same neighborhood in Plum. They got especially close after driving to football practice together in high school. Coyner described Adam as a “stand-up guy who was always smiling and never angry.”

Wangler said Adam was “incredibly” smart and excelled in STEM classes, even taking difficult classes as an elective simply because he was interested in them.

“I remember myself and Katrina teasing him about how he was taking astrophysics as an elective this semester,” Wangler said. “He was incredibly smart and had a real talent for math and science.

Taliani said not only did Adam have an interest in STEM classes, but also had dreams of working for NASA.

“Those were really his bread and butter,” Taliani said. “He’s probably one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.”

Coyner said even though it was hard to lose his friend, he knows Adam wouldn’t want him to focus solely on sadness in this situation. 

“If I could say anything to him now I would probably say ‘I miss you,’” Coyner said. “But he wouldn’t want me to be sad.”