By Jackie Salg
Recently, Branford High School students heard about the dangers of reckless driving firsthand.
On Wednesday, April 23, North Branford resident Lynn Riordan talked to an auditorium full of juniors and seniors at Branford High School, where she shared her touching story about the death of her teenaged son, Matt. The event was organized in advance of the school’s prom, which will take place May 25 at the Aqua Turf in Southington.
On May 23, 2009 Lynn’s son, Matt Picciuto, died in a car crash on Totoket Road in North Branford. That day Matt, accompanied by his friends, decided to take this road, popular among young drivers for being a place to “catch some air.” The activity involves driving at excessive speeds up hills in an attempt to lift the car in the air. Matt had been driving at eighty miles an hour on this road in order “catch air,” his mom detailed. At one point all four of his tires had been lifted above the ground. When the car landed, it had missed the road only slightly, but enough to cause a rollover accident, she said.
Students in the auditorium sat in silence as Lynn shared the story of Matt’s destructive driving decisions.
Before she left, she asked for anyone who had been affected by the account to please stand; there was not one person who did not stand.
Throughout the day, students discussed what was said at the assembly and it was evident that it was a story that they would carry their whole lives.
BHS Junior, Michelle Russo expressed how moving this story was to her stating, “The first time I heard about Matt was at driving school. It’s a very sad story even more so hearing it [for] the second time today. It just makes me rethink everything since I’m a driver. It makes me think about how safe I am out on the road.”
Lynn encourages all drivers to understand the importance of driving safe and slowing down by sharing this story at driving schools and local schools. She knew that one of the things Matt wanted to do in life was make a difference. She founded the Matt’s Mission Fund, a nonprofit organization that has assisted many people in need. Scholarships have been awarded in Matt’s name as well donations made to a few foundations. Lynn has also established an increasingly popular 5k road race Matt’s Mission, which will be held May 20 at North Branford High School. Head over to the website to register for the 5k road race.