Beacon Falls man killed in crash

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OXFORD — A 23-year-old Beacon Falls man who wanted to become a member of Beacon Hose Company No. 1 died after a three-car accident on Route 67 on Wednesday.

At 11:19 a.m., Matthew Mihalcik, of Lopus Road, was driving a Plymouth Neon north on Route 67 when he stopped at the intersection with Governors Hill Road, Resident Trooper Sgt. Daniel Semosky said.

He was rear-ended by a Dodge Dakota pickup truck, driven by Salvatore Manganello, 36, of Park Road. The collision push Mihalcik’s car into the southbound lane, Semosky said. Mihalcik then was struck by a GMC Acadia, driven by Michelle Pedros, 39, of Manitook Drive, he said.

Oxford firefighters and state and local police investigate the three-car accident on Wednesday.

Firefighters had to extricate Mihalcik from his car. He was taken by Oxford emergency medical personnel to Waterbury Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Semosky said.

Pedros and her 1-year-old son, Luciano, were transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital as a precaution, Semosky said. Manganello declined medical attention, he said.

Fire Chief Scott Pelletier said firefighters had to cut off two doors on the driver’s side and remove the center post to extricate Mihalcik. It took four minutes, he said.

Local and state police closed down a section of the road in front of the Resident Trooper’s Office while they investigated. Traffic was detoured onto Academy Road and Riggs Street. The road reopened before 3 p.m.

School officials anticipated some delays and used a new parent alert system to notify parents, interim Superintendent James A. Connelly said. In the end, there were minimal delays, he said.

The accident remains under investigation. The state Department of Environmental Protection also responded to handle a large gas spill from the Neon, authorities said.

Family members of Mihalcik declined to comment.

Mihalcik was a graduate of Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. The school’s principal, Arnold Frank, said there will be counselors available today.

According to a story published in the Republican-American in December 2003, Mihalcik, his brother, Bill, and their friend, Matt Johnson, were honored by Beacon Hose emergency officials for rushing to the aid of a neighbor.

While the trio waited for their school bus on Lopus Road Extension, they heard cries and ran to find Klara Schillinger, then 88, who had fallen down a flight of nine stairs from her kitchen into the basement. While one called 911, the other two stayed with the woman. Once emergency personnel arrived, Fire Chief Michael Pratt, who was a firefighter then, drove the teens to Woodland.

Jeremy Rodorigo, spokesman for Beacon Hose, said Wednesday that action says a lot about Mihalcik’s character, and that even as a teen, he wanted to help people.

He said Mihalcik had filed an application to become a Beacon Hose member, and it was moving through the process.

He said he believed Mihalcik was interested in both EMS and firefighting.

“We were looking forward to having him on,” Rodorigo said.

Rodorigo described Mihalcik as a quiet, very polite young man with a good demeanor. He remembered that when longtime volunteer firefighter Kevin Swan died in March, Mihalcik came down to help with whatever they needed, he said.

“He had no obligation to help us, but he was there for us,” Rodorigo said. “That meant a lot to us.”