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Town reaches out to grieving family

DA says tot's death a 'horrible accident'

The Angel of Hope statue in the memorial garden of the St. Anne Shrine in Sturbridge is a place where bereaved parents can go and reflect on the life of a lost child. Christopher Tanguay. (click for larger version)
July 08, 2009
STURBRIDGE — It is a devastating blow, but they are not alone.

Following the tragic death of 2-year-old Eli Hoy on Tuesday, the Sturbridge community has rallied together to support their grieving neighbors.

Eli was accidentally killed "when he was struck by a minivan operated by his mother in the driveway of their home," according to Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early's office.

According to a friend of the mother, the boy ran behind the minivan while she was backing out.

The accident occurred at approximately 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning, Assistant District Attorney Don Xenos said that while the state must follow protocol in investigating the incident, it appears to be nothing more than a tragedy.

"What this looks like is just a horrible accident," Xenos said. "I don't anticipate any additional information coming out of the DA's office."

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, 221 people were killed in back-over accidents in 2007. The most common cause of such accidents are blind spots — or areas to the side or back of a vehicle that cannot be seen through the side or rearview mirrors — in which children can be concealed from the sight of the driver.

Sylvia Gaumond of Southbridge, local chapter leader of Bereaved Parents of the U.S.A., a national support organization for parents who have lost children, openly invited the Hoys, Jordan and Pam, to visit the Angel of Hope statue in the memorial garden at the St. Anne Shrine in Sturbridge, only minutes away from where the accident occurred.

Dedicated last year, the Sturbridge Angel of Hope is only one of 100 angels across the United States memorializing children, of any age, who have died too soon.

"Losing a child is something that is beyond words," Gaumond said, speaking from her own experience. "It's the most pain that a parent can ever go through."

"What really helps parents that have lost a child is that this is a place where we can go to get peace and solace, and have a common bond with other parents that have experienced the same loss and are on the same journey that we're on," Gaumond continued.

In addition to seeking some quiet time in the memorial garden, Gaumond also invited the Hoys to a bereaved parents group, which meets on the second Monday of every month in the parish center, where they can share the company of others who can more closely identify with the family's struggles than anyone else.

"A lot of people have met there and friendships have flourished," Gaumond said.

According to Matt Sosik, president and CEO of Hometown Bank, said an account has been set up in memorial of Eli Hoy.

"It's a fund established by the family, friends and neighbors of the Hoys, really in support of the family," Sosik said. "It'll be entirely up to the family as to how to best utilize the money," he added.

Katie Resseguie of Hometown Bank said, "All you have to do is come in and say you want to make a donation and we have every thing set for you."

Donations can be made in Eli's name at any Hometown branch.

Neighbor Peter Baldracci of Cooper Road, said the Hoys moved into the neighborhood about four years ago, and were a happy family.

"I always saw them in the front yard," Baldracci said. "The kids were always out in the yard playing."

A pass by the Hoy's home shows evidence of a family that enjoyed their time together: an inflatable swimming pool, a big-wheel, and basketball hoops.

"I feel bad for the family,' Baldracci said. "It's just a tragedy."

A father of two children of his own, Baldracci said, "I don't know what I'd do if something like that happened to one of ours."

News staff writer Christopher Tanguay may be reached at (508) 909-4132, or by e-mail at ctanguay@stonebridgepress.com.

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