He was just weeks from graduating high school, and planned to attend college in the fall. But now, friends and family are mourning the death of Matthew Picciuto, 18, who lost control of his car Saturday.
The crash happened on Totoket Road in North Branford around 1:45 Saturday afternoon, according to North Branford Police. Picciuto was speeding on the windy road and had just passed another car when he lost control, flipped over, and slammed into a tree, police said. Picciuto was taken to Yale New Haven Hospital but died of his injuries. Two passengers survived the crash.
Friends of Picciuto created a memorial at the crash site and have steadily stopped by to honor his memory and pay their respects. The memorial includes a mirror from the teen’s car and Bob Marley memorabilia. They say Picciuto was a huge fan of the musician.
“I was shocked and sad,” said Brittany Hottin, a North Branford senior. “I didn’t believe it. It took awhile.”
“Everyone knew him,” said Matt Coane, and North Branford junior. “He never really had problems with anyone. You could always look to him to cheer you up.”
Picciuto’s mother, Lynn Riordan, addressed the senior class at North Branford High Tuesday morning, according to Superintendent Scott Schoonmaker. It was their first day back in class since the crash. Her message to the students: slow down. She also signed a memorial to her son, according to students.
“The whole family came,” said Stephanie Fiorentino, a North Branford junior. “It was terrible. Just seeing her up there signing the pole, what she wrote made everyone cry.”
“I’m never gonna drive fast, definitely not on this road or any other,” said Rick Angiollo, a North Branford junior. “You don’t get there that much faster.”
The school district made grief counselors available for students on Sunday afternoon, said Schoonmaker. About 70 students attended that session, he said. They’ll continue to make counselors available as long as they’re needed.
“Certainly, it’s a time you look to be celebrating with your friends and preparing for the next phase of your life. To have it so tragically cut short really has been a devastating blow to our community,” said Schoonmaker.
Picciuto’s funeral is scheduled for Friday afternoon, according to Schoonmaker. The district plans to make transportation available so students can attend.