Police Identify Sunday Crash Victims
Madeline Healey, 18, and Michael Ruggieri, 19, of North Kingstown, died when the pickup truck they were in flipped over on Shippeetown Road in the early morning.
East Greenwich Police have identified the four people involved in the rollover crash early Sunday on Shippeetown Road that killed two. According to the press release issued Monday evening, Nicholas Whiteley, 21, of North Kingstown, was driving the vehicle when it crashed. He and passenger Christopher T. Mortin, 19, of North Kingstown, are being treated at Rhode Island Hospital. Madeline E. Healey, 18, and Michael D. Ruggieri, 19, both of North Kingstown, were pronounced dead at the scene.
The crash took place at around 3:45 a.m. in front of 476 Shippeetown Road between Division and Middle roads. Police said the vehicle had been traveling south on Shippeetown Road when it struck two boulders on the east side of the road, "became airborne and then severed a telephone pole before overturning." Two people were ejected from the truck’s cab — one of those was dead by the time police and rescue arrived. The other was taken by ambulance to Rhode Island Hospital.
In the vehicle, one occupant was calling out for help, according to Shippeetown Road resident Patrick Fennessey, who was one of the first on the scene.
“I only heard one voice,” said Fennessey. “He kept saying, ‘Get me out of here.’”
It took an hour or more to rescue the man, Fennessey said. He was then taken to the Center of New England and flown by helicopter to Rhode Island Hospital. The other occupant was proclaimed dead at the scene.
EG Fire Chief Peter Henrikson said on Sunday that the cab was completely smashed and that the extrication of the two still in it was the most difficult he’d ever witnessed.
Police said speed appeared to have been a factor. They are awaiting toxicology reports to determine if alcohol was involved.
According to Fennessey, there was a truck driving in front of the crashed vehicle. After the accident, the truck turned around and came back. Fennessey talked to one of the men, who said they had been coming from Denny’s and were heading to a house on Tillinghast Road in East Greenwich.
The man from the other truck kept repeating to Fennessey that there were four people in the crashed truck. “And I’m looking in there and I’m thinking, ‘There’s four guys in there …’” Fennessey said, his voice trailing off.
Fennessey had brought a flashlight with him and he said he found one of the victims who was still alive in the woods.
Rescue units from three towns responded to the crash scene — in addition to East Greenwich, they were from Coventry and West Warwick. In addition to EG police, Fennessey said he saw a North Kingstown police car.
He said while the speed limit may be 25 mph on Shippeetown Road, drivers tend to go much faster. “It’s always been a racetrack. It’s always been a throughway since I was a child,” he said.
By midday Monday, the telephone pole that had been snapped in two in the accident had been replaced by a new pole, which was already decorated with balloons, flowers, and other mementos left for the victims. On a handmade cross painted silver were printed the words, “RIP Reggie and Maddie.”
Placed on the ground beside the pole was a still-chilled iced coffee in a styrofoam cup. Written on the cup: “Here’s the coffee I never got you. I’m gonna miss you. I love you.”