In Wake Of Fatal Crash, A Somber Vacation Week
The tragedy that left two teenagers dead early Sunday has cast a pall over both East Greenwich, where it took place, and North Kingstown, home to those involved.
Ever since news broke of the deadly truck rollover on Shippeetown Road in East Greenwich Sunday morning, waves of sadness and concern have rippled through the two communities involved.
All four occupants of the pickup truck that crashed around 3:45 a.m. Sunday were from North Kingstown, but since the accident took place in East Greenwich, the trauma has been felt locally as well.
In Felicia’s Wednesday afternoon, it was impossible not to overhear a young man’s too-loud voice talking through the crash with his older companion.
Just off Main Street, someone has painted “RIP Mike Ruggieri” on the back window of a red pickup truck. Ruggieri, 19, is one of the two who were pronounced dead at the scene. Madeline “Maddie” Healey, 18, is the other. Both were 2011 graduates of North Kingstown High School.
On Shippeetown Road, at the site of the crash, a shrine has taken shape. All day and into the night this week, people have come to the site to place flowers, a photograph, a cross, a candle, and to stay for a few minutes or maybe hours. The warmer-than-usual February temperatures have made that possible.
On Wednesday at dusk, Megan Therrien sat on the ground, wrapped in a sleeping bag in front of a white cross she had brought. She'd been there 2 and a half hours already and wasn't ready to leave yet.
“They were great people. They just enjoyed life,” said Therrien, a high school classmate of both Mike and Maddie. “They were always happy. Mike was a really funny guy. They were really loved.”
East Greenwich Police have released little information beyond the identities of the four occupants of the truck. The driver of the truck, Nicholas Whiteley, 21, remains in critical condition at Rhode Island Hospital. Christopher Mortin, 19, was hospitalized after the crash but has since been released.
Police said speed was a factor in the crash. It’s unclear when more information, including toxicology reports and an accident reconstruction, will be released.
“This is a continuing and developing investigation that will take a while to thoroughly complete,” said Det. Lieutenant Jeremy Fague. “I do not want any info to get out that would hinder this investigation whether this investigation leads to criminal or civil ramifications.”
The funeral for Mike Ruggieri will be held Friday, at 8:45 a.m., from the Russell J. Boyle & Son Funeral Home, 142 Centerville Road (Rte. 117), Warwick. A Concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 10 a.m. in St. Bernard Church, 275 Tower Hill Rd., North Kingstown, with burial in Quidnessett Memorial Cemetery.
A Mass of Christian Burial for Madeline "Maddie" Healey is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Bernard's Church for relatives and family. Visiting hours are slated for 4 to 8 p.m. at Fagan-Quinn Funeral Home on Friday.