Michael D. Ruggieri — beloved son, big brother, truck enthusiast, “teddy bear” — was buried Friday at Quidnessett Memorial Cemetery in North Kingstown, after a packed funeral at St. Bernard Catholic Church on Tower Hill Road.
The 19-year-old was, according to his dad, David, “really beginning to come into his own” these last few months. on the narrow, winding Shippeetown Road in East Greenwich. Madeline Healey, 18, was also killed that morning. The driver of the truck, Nicholas Whiteley, 21, remains in critical condition at Rhode Island Hospital. The fourth person in the truck that fateful morning, Christopher Mortin, 19, was treated at the hospital and released the same day.
In his homily, family friend Fr. Lawrence E. Toole told the Ruggieris that “God has woven a very painful stitch in your lives.” He called on all those present to help carry the Ruggieri family in the days and months ahead.
Dave Ruggieri’s remembrance of his oldest son was read by another friend of the family, Andrew Murphy.
“A senseless sequence of events,” he wrote, resulted in a tragedy that will reverberate through the community for years. The four people in the truck on Sunday morning “collectively, collectively, made a couple of bad choices.”
Let it be a reminder to all of us, he continued, “actions have consequences.”
Dave Ruggieri wrote that he hoped young people will remember Michael and what happened last Sunday so that when they are faced with a similar set of circumstances, “they will make the right choice.”
Reminiscing, he recalled the time when he and his wife, Barbara, took Michael to a baseball field. With dad pitching and mom catching, 7-year-old Michael took to the plate. When Mike got a hit, he took off … to third base. That bit of family lore always got a laugh, and did again at the church.
Dave Ruggieri wrote about how much his son loved trucks and wanted nothing more than to work alongside his father at Hopedale Trucking. He was to start there full time in the spring.
Ruggieri also wrote about how much his son loved his two younger brothers, Vincent and Nicholas. “Michael is no longer around to watch out for you … you have to watch out for each other now,” Murphy read.
Finding solace in his Catholic faith, Ruggieri’s eulogy ended with these words: “We will get through this because we believe — we know — someday we will see you again.”
The funeral for takes place Saturday at 10 a.m., again at St. Bernard Church.