On April 10, 2011, my son, Connor was killed as a passenger in a single vehicle, distracted driving crash. He was just 21 years old. He was riding in a van that veered from Interstate 79 just north of Pittsburgh, PA, striking a fixed light pole. The impact killed the Connor instantly.
Since Connor was a young child, he was always known for living on the edge. Those who remember him describe him as an “adrenaline junkie.” As a child, Connor channeled that energy into sports. At age 6, he began to play hockey and had the opportunity to compete in the Quebec Pee-Wee World Championship.
As Connor got older, his passion for hockey grew. He played competitively for the Amateur Pens AAA Tier 1 team and the North Pittsburgh Wildcats as well as for his high school team. His family describes these times traveling from game to game and tournament to tournament as full of laughter—these trips offer some of their fondest memories of Connor.
After graduating, Connor began working for Ionadi Construction. He took pride in his work and was adamant about learning the trade well. Though he now worked full time, Connor did not give up his love for sports. He was a Golden Glove boxer, a mixed martial artist, and took up bull riding. Of all his new hobbies, he enjoyed bull riding the most. Connor was never seen at a rodeo without a giant smile on his face. Even after a particularly rough fall from a bull, his grimace would quickly turn into a grin.
There is not just one word that can describe Connor. He was known to be fun, funny, and fiercely loyal. He was protective of all of his friends, quickly defending those he thought were being bullied. Generous as well as protective, Connor would give without counting the cost. He would have offered someone the shirt off his back and would not have expected anything in return.
This crash was completely preventable. I have made it my mission in life to engage with teens, their parents, and community members, educating them on the dangers and consequences of reckless and distracted driving and then to empower them to make good choices behind the wheel whether as a driver or passenger, by offering simple solutions and strategies to get to their destination safely.