Fallen motorcyclist recalled at vigil

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BY STEVE BIGHAM CITIZEN’S NEWS

NAUGATUCK — Dozens of friends and family members of Travis LaRowe gathered roadside along New Haven Avenue for a candlelight vigil June 19, three days after the borough man died from injuries he sustained while riding his motorcycle.

LaRowe, 22, a lifelong Naugatuck resident, was one of three local men on motorcycles who were traveling north on New Haven Road around 8:47 p.m. Friday when, according to police, a southbound 2004 Honda Accord crossed the center line, sideswiping another vehicle before striking two of the motorcycles.

LaRowe, who was operating a 2004 Harley-Davidson, was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Javier Vasquez, 20, also of Naugatuck, who was operating a 2012 Harley-Davidson, was also transported to a local hospital where he remains in critical, but stable condition.

The rider of the third motorcycle, Jason Vasquez, 24, of Naugatuck, crashed his bike while taking evasive action to avoid the collision and sustained less-serious injuries.

Last night’s vigil was held near the scene of the crash at 848 New Haven Road, on a grassy slope between Holy Savior Polish National Cemetery and Warren Avenue. A line of motorcycles were parked along the roadside as a testament to LaRowe’s passion for riding with his friends.

Also there was a piece of his drum set, of which, friends and family say, he was very talented at playing. He was a member of the local band Russian Roulette, having performed at local bars since he was 15.

His last gig was at Diamond Lil’s in Waterbury.

Even more than his talent, friends say, was his big heart and kind demeanor that set him apart; his reach in Naugatuck having ran deep, as evidenced by the large group on hand and the many who honked as they passed by.

His cousin, Sarah Moraine, said she practically grew up with LaRowe and said he touched a lot of lives.

“We grew up together. He had such a kind heart and love of music,” she said, as she and friend, Austin Nash nailed a cross to a nearby pole.

Those on hand said LaRowe was “that guy that you can talk to for only 30 seconds and you just knew he was a genuine type of dude.”

Others said described him as humble, someone who “we all wanted to center ourselves around.”

LaRowe’s mother, Valerie Machnics, admitted she was still in shock over the sudden loss of her son, but said she felt comfort being around so many at the vigil.

At one point, those at the memorial let go of balloons, dozens of them lifted into the evening sky, a farewell of sorts to a young man who’s bright future was cut short in an instant.

“I lost my son and best friend all in the same night,” said LaRowe’s father, Raymond.

LaRowe was a skilled carpenter and worked for the family business, Morain Carpentry.

Police said Carol DeBernardis, 76, of Naugatuck, was behind the wheel of the Honda that crossed the center line Friday night. Police said she sustained minor injuries in the crash.

Police said the crash remains under investigation, including a technical reconstruction through the Naugatuck Valley Collision Investigation team.

Police said no enforcement action has been taken at this time, however, any witnesses to the collision or persons with information regarding this investigation are asked to contact lead investigator, Officer Elvis Vasquez at 203-729-5221.