Saturday, June 04, 2005

my pool of souls claims a life

I drove by the bridge today which I use to throw itza and offerings into my Pool of Souls, and there's two big flower bouquets there, so that bridge (the smaller of the two) is the one where the man died.

For when the link is dead, here's one story, from national news:

Man Killed In ATV Crash

WALLINGFORD, Conn. - Wallingford police are investigating Sunday night's fatal collision between two all-terrain vehicles near the Quinnipiac River that took the life of a Wallingford man. State police told NBC 30 that the two ATVs slammed into each other, sending one driver over a bridge and into the Quinnipiac River.

Joseph Whittaker, 28, was pronounced dead at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Local news:

Horbaty tries to come to grips with friend's death

By Dan Champagne, Record-Journal staff

WALLINGFORD — Roman Horbaty did everything he could to save his friend, but it wasn't enough. His friend is gone — the victim of an ATV accident on Sunday — and Horbaty is left to deal with the memory of being there and watching him die.

Joseph C. Whittaker Jr., 28, collided with the 30-year-old Horbaty as the two rode all-terrain vehicles west on Quinnipiac Street Sunday evening. Whittaker somehow lost control of his ATV. It swerved to the right, police said, and struck a metal guardrail. Whittaker flew over the front and fell into the shallow water of the Quinnipiac River, and it was Horbaty who ran to his aid, jumping into the river and keeping Whittaker's head above water until rescuers arrived.

Whittaker was taken by helicopter to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"I just got down there and tried to save him," Horbaty said. "I saw his legs sticking out from the water, so I tried to get him up. The water wasn't deep. It was more mud than anything. The mud was knee-deep."

Whittaker, who followed in his father's footsteps and became a truck driver at Mitchell's Express Inc., will never get to say his wedding vows to fiancée Michele MacDonald, and he will never get to see his elementary school-aged son, Joseph C. Whittaker III, grow up.

Whittaker was riding Horbaty's ATV and Horbaty was riding an ATV that belonged to another friend when the accident happened, Horbaty said.

Horbaty recently had fixed problems with the carburetor on the ATV that Whittaker was riding, but he said he was "positive" that the repairs had nothing to do with the accident.

He recalled the moment of the crash. "I got bumped from behind," he said, "and I turned around and he was flying in the air. I pulled around and started yelling his name," Horbaty said, "and he wasn't responding."

Horbaty continued a short distance down Quinnipiac Street, unharmed. Whittaker flew over the front of the ATV and into the river, according to police. Neither man was wearing a helmet, Horbaty said.

The investigation is continuing, and police have already interviewed some witnesses, Lt. Alan Zakrzewski said Tuesday.

Horbaty said he and Whittaker had ridden from Horbaty's home at 3 Pequot Road to the Monte Carlo at Judd Square for a pig roast. They were returning home when the accident happened. Both Horbaty and his mother said alcohol was not involved in the accident.

"I know my son, and I can tell when he's been drinking, and I know he wasn't drinking," Gloria Horbaty said Tuesday. "I was hugging him and very close to him all night and he didn't smell of alcohol one bit."

Horbaty, who does heating and air conditioning work for SolvIt Inc., graduated from Sheehan High School in 1992. He and Whittaker had been best friends for about five years.

"He's reliving this nightmare all the time," Gloria Horbaty said of her son. "He had to go into that hospital room and say his last goodbyes to his best friend after he had already expired. He was not responsible, but he feels responsible."

In addition to his fiancée and son, Whittaker is survived by his mother, Denise Whittaker.

"He was such a sweetheart," Gloria Horbaty said of Joseph Whittaker. "He would come by and call me mom. He was like a part of the family."

"He had such a sweet personality," added Marilyn Wrinn, the officer manager at Mitchell's Express Inc. His father, Joseph Sr., had worked at Mitchell's before he died of a heart attack in April 2004. "He always had a big hello for everyone and was always willing to help if someone needed it. We're all just in shock."

Police are asking anyone with information about the accident or who might have witnessed Horbaty and Whittaker driving the ATVs earlier Sunday to contact Officer Christian Evans at (203) 294-2819.

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