Community Comes Together in the Face of Tragedy

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Community Comes Together in the Face of Tragedy

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Taylor Houggy, Reporter

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While Christmas is anticipated as a time of family gathering and love, Waterford spent the aftermath of the holiday season in mourning after a horrific car accident that shocked the community to its core. On December 26th, at around 1:30 PM, two vehicles experienced a head-on crash, leading to a three-car pileup near Reynolds Lane. Police arrived at the scene to find multiple people trapped inside their cars, and were then transferred to Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, with one person being airlifted to Yale-New Haven. The victims of the crash included Olivia Turowski and her daughter Stephanie, who are well-known and loved throughout the community.

Mrs. Turowski, who teaches at Clark Lane Middle School, is known as a tough, yet loving teacher who knew how to make an impact on her students, while Stephanie was a graduate of Waterford High, and is regarded as an extremely kind and caring individual.

“Stephanie was one of the sweetest and kindest people that you’d ever meet. She never had a bad word to say about anybody,” said Ms. Kim Thibeau, a teacher of English who had Stephanie as a student . Tragically, Stephanie passed away from her injuries, with her mother still in critical condition.

This tragedy, especially with it’s happening so close to the holidays, has brought about an air of despair to our town, and given us a good reminder to hug our loved ones a little bit tighter the next time we see them. However, in the wake of such a horrifying event, our community has managed to come together in order to support those most affected and revive the happiness and sense of kinship in the town.

Local resident and 2011 alumni Davonta Valentine was especially struck by the accident and decided to take initiative by setting up a GoFundMe account, where people can donate to a common cause via the internet. After having Mrs. Turowski in middle school and considering her one of his favorite teachers, as well as being friends with Stephanie, Valentine felt as though he needed to do something to help the Turowski family cope with their devastating loss.

With an original goal of $2,000, donations surpassed this limit within a day, and at this point, patrons have donated almost $14,000. Valentine stated, “My main hopes for the fundraiser were to be able to help such an incredible family out in need after a tragic event. I also wanted to raise awareness to the community that, when an individual is given an idea, so many good things can come out of it.”

The charity didn’t stop with Valentine. Efforts are being taken within school itself to provide the Turowski family with as much help as possible over the next few months. Assistant principal Ms. Moger is currently overseeing the WHS part of a Meal Train outreach.

“We just want to get the Turowski family going again. They’re going through an incredibly rough time right now. Whether it be meals, or plowing their driveways, we’re gonna do anything we can to help them through the winter,” said Ms. Moger. Meal Train is an online donation center similar to GoFundMe, but instead of giving money, participants provide planned meals for those in need and sign up for specific dates.

If you would like to donate to the Turowwski family GoFundMe account, go to:  https://www.gofundme.com/35m6v48

 

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