The Easton and Redding communities are rallying to support six teenagers who were occupants in a car that crashed on Route 107 near Umpawaug Road on April 14. All of the teens were “critically and seriously injured.”
The six young people are:
- Ryan Capozziello, 18, of Fairfield
- Allison Loder, 17, of Easton
- Ryan Gombos, 16, of Easton
- Janelle Pompea, 16, of Redding
- Thomas Bull, 18, of Fairfield
- Grant Ciccarello, 16, of Redding
The Joel Barlow High School PTSA Caring Community Committee has reached out to assist the families as they visit their loved ones in the hospital while juggling their other children’s school schedules and life responsibilities.
“Four of the six students involved in Friday’s car accident are Barlow students,” Principal Gina Marie Pin confirmed. “The students are receiving excellent medical care and they are improving.”
Because Barlow is a small high school, all the students and families know each other and have strong bonds.
The specific dynamics of the crash (who was driving, where the occupants were seated, etc.) have not been released by police, as the accident investigation is ongoing.
Redding police Chief Doug Fuchs said his investigators are going to look at the accident and attempt to “back up a day” and understand all the factors leading up to the crash. He added that such an investigation could take months.
In terms of a narrative, Fuchs said the vehicle, a black Jeep Liberty, was traveling northeast on Route 107 near Umpawaug Road when it left the road and struck a tree. One passenger is known to have been ejected during the crash.
Sometime after the crash, the vehicle caught fire. A group of passersby stopped when they came upon the crash and pulled the remaining occupants out of the vehicle before first responders arrived.
The current medical status of the occupants will not be released by police, except to say that when they were initially transported, all involved had “serious and critical” injuries.
The occupants were taken to three different area hospitals after the crash, and some were airlifted to other locations afterward, Fuchs said.
All three Redding EMS companies and a Ridgefield EMS company responded to the crash, along with police officers and firefighters.
The police have identified the passersby who stopped to help the occupants of the vehicle. They will identify them publicly if they choose to come forward.
“We are working and trying to take care of the families’ wants and needs,” said Ellen O’Connor of Easton, who has been chairman of the PTSA Caring Community Committee for four years. “I have spoken with all of the families to ask what we could do right now to help them.”
She said some of the families are hoping their loved ones might be released from the hospital later this week or next week, but it all depends on their healing. Down the road, when things get more settled, the caring committee will get a meal train going for them, she said.
Right now the families can use gifts cards to gas stations, coffee shops and local places like the Easton Village Store, the Ridge and the Spinning Wheel, since they are juggling trips to the hospital.
“We’re all just really praying for them and keeping them in our thoughts and want to do whatever we can during this difficult time,” said Sue Dorenbosch of Redding, another parent who is helping out however she can. “The kids from Barlow have really pulled together. It’s a time to keep hugging our kids, listen to them, understand what they are feeling, and keep an eye out for them. Our focus is on the kids and the families.”
Gary Simone, Easton Parks and Recreation director, who is known for going out of his way to help people in need, said, “I know one of the families very well. I am reaching out to see what I/we can do. Will keep you posted. So sad.”