A community is mourning after 18-year-old Nicholas Proto died from an SUV rollover accident at Hammonasset Beach State Park shortly after his graduation from Haddam-Killingworth High School.
“He didn’t deserve it, he was a really sweet kid,” said Michaela Rubino.
Rubino and her sister Brianna Rubino said they grew up with Proto while their mom dated his dad.
“Nick was always a big part of our life,” Michaela said.
“I’m just gonna think about him daily cause I hadn’t talked to him in a really long time cause I moved away," Brianna said. "I live out in Maine, made the trip back when I found out.”
The sisters said they'll miss Proto's humor.
“So stupid, funny," Brianna said.
"Honestly, just his presence really," Michaela added, "his presence really lit up the whole room, he could stand there and you’d just know he’s there.”
Encon Police said the 18-year-old from Higganum died Saturday night following a single SUV rollover accident after 7 p.m.
“I don’t think any of them are to blame, even the driver, things happen we all have fun and just accidents happen,” Michaela said.
Police said two of the six people in the SUV were ejected. The driver and three passengers had to be rushed to area hospitals.
"He had a great day at the beach is what all of his friends told me who were in the car,” Michaela said.
Proto was pronounced dead at Yale-New Haven Hospital, police said.
“Certainly, scary for the kids and had to go out explaining about what went on and what the outcome was so you know it’s a learning lesson, too, said Frank Wendt, who is camping at the state park with his daughter.
On Saturday, they were out for dinner when police closed the park to investigate the deadly accident. Markings from the State Police Accident Reconstruction team could still be seen on the road Monday afternoon.
“Lots of lights and sirens going by and tried to get back into the park to the campsite and It was blocked off by the police who said there was either a serious or fatal accident,” Wendt said.
The park reopened Sunday morning and markings from the State Police Accident Reconstruction team could still be seen on the road Monday afternoon.
Throughout the day, friends have been stopping by a roadside memorial for Proto with pictures and flowers.
“He was here for a good time, not a long time, he knew that and he wouldn’t want anybody to be upset over him,” Michaela said.
A camper who asked not to go on camera told NBC Connecticut medical professionals at the park rushed over to help the injured before first responders arrived Saturday evening.
The superintendent from Proto's school district said "our focus is taking care of our community."