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Tragedy Felt Throughout Oxford Community

Brandon Giordano, a 15-year-old Oxford High School student, is remembered following accident.

The Oxford community is mourning the loss of a 15-year-old Oxford High School student who died in a on Old State Road around midnight Friday.

Brandon Giordano, a sophomore and member of the OHS football team, was pronounced dead on the scene of the accident, which occurred at 43 Old State Road at 11:47 Friday night.

Giordano was the lone back seat passenger in a 2000 Ford Mustang convertible owned by 19-year-old Eric Ramirez, an Oxford resident who was driving the car, a police report states. Ramirez was listed in serious condition at Yale-New Haven Hospital as of midday Saturday, according to a hospital spokesperson.

A third passenger, Oxford resident Dion Major, whose age wasn’t released by police but is believed to be 15 as well, sustained minor injuries. He was the front seat passenger, police said.

The police report states that the Seymour Police Department attempted to stop Ramirez in their town but that he stepped on the gas and fled. It was unclear from the report how far police chased his Mustang.

Ramirez then drove into Oxford and turned right onto Old State Road, which is about a half-mile from the Seymour/Oxford town line.

The car traveled off the roadway on the right, struck an embankment, went airborne and crashed into a commercial building where Precision Glass and Mirror operates.

The car then landed upside down on what would have been the roof; people close to the investigation said the convertible top was down when the accident occurred. All three teens in the car were wearing their seat belts, police said.

About 35 Oxford volunteer firefighters arrived and used the Jaws of Life to remove the passenger door to get at the victims, Oxford Fire Chief Scott Pelletier said.

Firefighters used high-pressure airbags to lift the car and it took four minutes – from the time firefighters arrived on scene - to remove Dion Major, the front passenger; five minutes to remove Giordano, who was in the back seat on the driver’s side; and slightly longer than that to remove Ramirez, the driver, from the vehicle, Pelletier said.

It took longer to get Ramirez out because of where he was positioned; all told, it took firefighters 18 minutes to get everybody out of the vehicle, a good response time considering the magnitude of the crash, Pelletier said.

Emergency Medical Technicians from the Oxford volunteer ambulance crew treated all three. Giordano was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ambulance crews took separate vehicles to transport both Major and Ramirez to Waterbury Hospital. Ramirez had an incapacitating head injury, according to the police report. He was transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital and was listed in serious condition there are of 11:30 a.m. Saturday, a hospital spokesman confirmed.

A Horrific Scene

Pelletier said that in his 32 years as a firefighter in Oxford, Friday’s accident ranks in one of the top five worse that he’s seen.

From looking at the accident scene, it appears the vehicle struck the building on the second floor, about 15 feet in the air. The building is at least 25 feet from the roadway, and there are no tire marks on the grass, meaning the car was high in the air when it struck the building. (See photo attached)

Several people, including some parents and their teenagers, went to the scene on Saturday to pay their respects and to get a better idea of what happened. Some said they wanted their teens to see the devastation so that it may serve as a lesson.

“Hopefully, the kids of Oxford can learn from this,” Pelletier said in a phone interview Saturday morning. “This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those involved. All we can do now as a community is be there for them and to continue to educate our children.”

School Offers Condolences, Grief Counseling

Oxford school officials held an emergency meeting Saturday morning to determine how to reach out to students and families affected by this tragedy.

Principal Frank Savo, speaking on behalf of the school staff, said thoughts and prayers go out to the individuals and families involved.

“Our focus at this point is to provide support,” he said.

That support will come in several different ways. The school has a crisis intervention team set up already at the school. It will be open until 8 tonight for anyone who needs immediate support, and school officials will remain on call throughout the weekend for anyone who needs to talk, needs grief counseling, etc.

“We’re here to help in any way possible,” Savo said.

The school has notified parents of the situation, he said. Officials have also reached out to families of students involved – Ramirez is a former OHS student – and Oxford High will continue to provide support to students next week.

On Monday, social workers will be available all day. Also, teachers, staff, guidance counselors, administrators, the superintendent and everyone else who works at the high school will avail themselves to students, Savo said.

‘A Bright and Popular Student’

That is how Savo described Giordano, who was a lineman on the school’s football team.

Messages of love for Giordano were plastered Saturday all over social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and in the comments sections of news sites that covered the story.

Several students at the high school changed their Facebook profile pictures to the number 69 – Giordano’s football number – with “RIP Brandon Giordano” written underneath. Others posted messages saying they are reaching out to their loved ones and gave inspirational remarks, such as you can’t take life for granted because things can change in a second. And many sent their thoughts, prayers and love out to Ramirez, saying they hope and pray he will pull through.

From appearances, Giordano seemed like a happy-go-lucky young man. Just last week, this reporter saw him unloading boxes of Girl Scout cookies in Seymour with his OHS football teammates. Although it was raining, Giordano was smiling. (See photo attached)

“He was an Oxford kid…” said First Selectman George Temple. “…A typical good kid.”

‘Hug your kids’

Temple has a son who is also a sophomore on the football team at OHS and was friends with Giordano.

“It’s really affected the kids in the school,” Temple said. “It’s tough for everybody to deal with. …He was a good kid and there are a lot of kids in that category. It’s a good day to hug your kid.”

Temple and others who were on scene last night and early this morning said that’s exactly what they did when they got home. The first selectman said he arrived home at 4 a.m. and that his son was awake, very upset and trying to figure out what happened.

“I’m sure that was true throughout the town,” Temple said.

He said the emergency services crews in Oxford did a phenomenal job and should be commended.

Board of Education Chairwoman Paula Guillet was also on scene after the ambulance had transported the victims. She said the car didn’t look like a car: “It looked like a ball of aluminum foil,” she said.

She said she sends her deepest sympathies out to the families and friends involved.

“I hope everybody can support each other in this time of deep grief,” she said with a faint tinge of emotion accompanying her voice.

Another Tragic Circumstance for Family

Early this morning, when Brandon Giordano’s mother got the call every parent dreads, she ran out of the house. A candle remained lit in her bedroom.

That candle continued to burn while the home was empty, and it somehow sparked a fire in the house at 94 Christian St., Pelletier, the fire chief, said.

The fire department went to the house and contained the flames to the bedroom. That room, however, sustained fairly significant fire and smoke damage, Pelletier said.

She was told she could stay in the house, Pelletier said.

Investigation Ongoing; Several Questions Remain

The Connecticut State Police Accident Reconstruction Squad is investigating the accident. Accident reconstructions are very in-depth and can take weeks, if not months, to complete.

Oxford Resident Trooper Sgt. Dan Semosky said there is not much he can comment on at this point.

“All I can say is it’s being investigated thoroughly and that it’s now a matter of dealing with this tragedy and the kids in our community,” he said.

Several questions will be considered throughout the investigation, such as why Seymour Police attempted to pull the car over, why Ramirez didn't pull over, how long the pursuit went on, what rate of speed the car was traveling and whether there were any other contributing factors, besides rate of speed, that could have contributed to the accident.

An Oxford Patch reporter went to the Seymour Police Department on Saturday afternoon seeking a comment about the incident. A police dispatcher said Seymour Lt. Paul Satkowski is the department’s official spokesman and that all information would have to come from him. However, Satkowski was not working on Saturday and the dispatcher said we would have to try him again on Monday to get a comment.

angela borrelli March 10, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Oxford Patch, your article warmed my heart and was the only thing able to put a smile on my grief stricken face. Brandon was the light or our lives. Can u please send me a copy of this picture of him? Thank you sincerly, Angela Borrelli, Brandon Giordano's Mom
betsy rogers March 10, 2012 at 09:50 PM
What a terrible tragedy! My thoughts and prayers are with you Angela at this sad sad time.
Diana March 10, 2012 at 11:42 PM
You should think twice before making comments that grieving parents will be reading. Have a heart and only post what you would want to see if this tragedy happened to your family.
Heidi March 11, 2012 at 12:19 AM
My deepest sympathies. I didn't know your son, but I know Your daughter and think she's very special. Please accept my prayers.
CMG March 11, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Mrs. Borrelli, so sorry for your loss...my prayers are with you and your family....
Craig Zac March 11, 2012 at 03:03 AM
OMG.... what a horrible incident. I cant imagine what this kids family is going through, also what the other kids parents are going through. So sad...
ohs kids March 11, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Mrs. Borrelli, im so sorry for this to happen, your son was a very funny kid he ment alot to me and all of Oxford High. OHS should Retire the number 69 football jersey and FRAME it and put it in the main hall way To always rember BRANDON G, He is in Are Prayers
Deirdre Virgalla March 11, 2012 at 04:44 AM
My heart goes out to Brandon's family. It sounds like he was a great kid- you should be proud! Very proud! . And always Remember-you have an angel up in heaven! May Gid give you strength.
Peggy Freeman March 11, 2012 at 09:27 AM
Angela: Our thoughts and prayers to your entire family, and blessings to an new angel in heaven. So many kids have changed the images to reflect Brandons number on Facebook with love. Yes, they should retire his number and frame it with respect for Brandon. With Love and Sympathy - Peggy, Patrick and Mary Freeman
Mary Beth Nelsen March 11, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Our thoughts and prayers for their families and friends.
MyGoodPeople March 11, 2012 at 02:21 PM
This is a terrible tragedy all around. My thoughts and prayers are with all of these families but especially the Giordano's. One clarification with regard to the accident. Old State Rd (accident scene) is at least 2-2.5 miles from the Seymour/Oxford town line not the 1/2 mile noted in this article. Answers needed: where and why did the Seymour cop start pursuit? Did he call ahead to Oxfrord, if not why not? At what point did he stop the pursuit? Should Ramirez have stopped; sure but he did not and only he can answer why. Unfortunately this is something this young man will live with for eternity; he is going to need a great deal of support. Dion will have his own issues in dealing with this as well and will need support. I hope they will get it and not suffer through this difficult situation. God bless them and their families.
dave March 11, 2012 at 04:37 PM
This is very tragic. An innocent life was lost however we can not put the blame on the police. It doesn't matter if it was .5 miles or 10 miles out of Seymour. The driver should have stopped in 500 feet. It makes no difference what the officer was attempting to stop them for.
Carla1 March 11, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Thay did not have to chased the car Thay had a marker go to the house !! Yes there is a law not to do that O.M.G. Chased the car won't hold up!! And the boy past away
ECasey March 11, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Our prayers are with Brandon's family, friends and classmates. Our children will be going through such sadness this week it's heart breaking. We may have a small town but we are all in this together. God help our children during this painful time.
Mary Beth Nelsen March 11, 2012 at 10:15 PM
This is an article about the effect of this tragedy on our community. The families are reading this. Why don't we confine our remarks to support, condolences and sympathy?
CMG March 11, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Someone, you should have checked the DMV site before making your post...the driver was 19, there is no curfew and not only that, the curfew is 11pm anyway and driving someone else has to do with how long you have held your license between the age of 16 and 18....besides it doesn't matter....this is about the loss of life and how our community has come together. I agree with Mary Beth....
Jeanmarie Winger March 11, 2012 at 11:47 PM
RIP Brandon, you were the light of our lives at OHS. Rest easy, angel <3
Nicholas Gazsi March 12, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Brandon you will always be remembered. I am going to miss seeing u at your locker everday. You are the person that made school fun. It is going to be very boring without u cracking jokes all the time in class. RIP - Nick Gazsi
nick esteves March 12, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Brandon was one of the funniest kid I ever met and was always able to lighten the mood...he will truly be missed
Dylan Mitola March 12, 2012 at 02:46 AM
brandon.. you were a funny kid and i always loved playing xbox with u... i will truly miss u
NANCY March 12, 2012 at 11:12 AM
i as a neighbor on jacks hill am very sorry for your loss..whatever the reason our community lost yet another young man before his time.my heart and sole goes out to the family..i have seen so much of this in my 40 yrs here and it makes me so sad as all of them.may you get throu with the help of family ,friends and god.you will be in my thoughts for a long time.
Heidi March 12, 2012 at 11:27 AM
Many prayers to everyone today.
Deidre March 12, 2012 at 12:02 PM
My son knew Brandon as he is a sophmore at OHS. We are so very sorry for the family and the loss of a son. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Woodland Hawks Football March 12, 2012 at 12:16 PM
On behalf of the Woodland Hawks Football Program we would like to express our deepest sympathies for the families and community of Oxford over this terrible tragedy. We will keep you all in our prayers.
SoccerMom March 12, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I am so very sorry! My son is about his age. You are in my prayers.
Local family March 19, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families. To loose a child or watch your child suffer there is no greater pain. The law is to stop if a police officer has his lights on everyone knows the law. Right now people should pull together and help were needed.

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