Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Where the True Tragedy Lies

Generally speaking, I try not to be controversial on my blog but last week's shooting death of 2-year old Wyatt Matteau has been on my mind a lot - not just because of the affect that it had on two of my friends in the EMS community but because of public reaction to this senseless tragedy and how I personally feel about it. I know a lot of people aren't going to agree with my opinion but that's okay because this is my opinion and I feel it necessary to express it - controversial or not.

First off, let me state right here and now that I am not an unsympathetic person by any means. I have an incredibly large soft spot in my heart in spite of all my years in 911 and some of the tragedies that I have had to deal with both personally and from a distance. I once listened to a man being shot to death in a California bar, my heart broke when four young boys died in the Lake Street fire that I worked the dispatch on, I've tried to comfort a grieving widow whose husband just died on her without warning while she blamed herself, and I've listened to innumerable people scream and cry when someone they love has been lost or hurt. I've done all of those things and more and have generally come home and cried myself because of the grief and sadness that sometimes goes along with human life. I am not a cold, hard, unfeeling person no matter what these next few paragraphs may sound like.

When the 911 call for Wyatt's death came in last Thursday morning, it didn't come into my dispatch center so I didn't have to field the calls from screaming neighbors who were unintelligble and unable to give the dispatchers the correct details of what had happened. Initially we didn't know what had happened other than a neighboring town needed a paramedic for an unresponsive pediatric patient. As the details of the call unfolded the call went from being an unresponsive pediatric to a question of a gunshot wound to a confirmed call of a 2-year old patient shot in the head. My initial thought was "Oh my God, who would shoot a 2-year old in the head?" as I just couldn't comprehend that heinous of an act no matter how many years of law enforcement I had behind me.

It never dawned on me that the child may have shot himself but that's exactly what happened. Young Wyatt Matteau, an adorable blonde-haired little boy (I will spare you the pictures I saw on the news as those make this story even more heartbreaking), had found a loaded gun under a pillow and shot himself in the eye while his parents were somewhere else in the house with his baby sister. Two of my good friends, along with other medical personnel, provided the best care possible to Wyatt before he was flown by helicopter to Connecticut Children's Hospital in Hartford where he died a short time later from his injuries. Those two friends are still trying to come to grips with the call and even though I think they'll eventually be okay, they're still going to be scarred for life.

But this isn't about them this time, this is about the carelessness of parents who leave loaded guns in places where their children can find them; this is about who is responsible for Wyatt's death; and this is about what should happen next. I am not unsympathetic to Jason and Becky Matteau - they have suffered a horrible loss and, as a parent myself who can't even fathom the horror of losing one of my own children, my heart goes out to them but my heart goes out even more to that little boy whose life was cut short because the very people who were entrusted to care for him and raise him and protect him failed to do so; horribly failed to do so and now he's gone.

Two reasons prompted me to write this post rather than keep my own council - the first came in the form of an open letter to the public that Wyatt's parents sent to the local news media (click here to read it) that just struck the wrong chord with me for reasons I can't really explain. The second came via fax machine to the dispatch center at work in the form of a request to send money to a memorial fund that has been set up. The fax reads in part that "A memorial fund has been set up for Becky and Jason Matteau in the name of Wyatt Matteau ... Becky and Jason lost their son in a sad and tragic accident in their home. Jason and Becky have been involved in the Canterbury Fire Department for many years and Jason recently joined the Jewett City Fire Department. Their son Wyatt was a vivacious and loving boy that will be sorely missed. ... Thank you for your help in this tragic time." What it should have said is that Jason and Becky should have known better and then this "tragic time" wouldn't exist but of course you can't say that and ask for money at the same time.

All of this makes it sound like Wyatt's parents had nothing to do with Wyatt's death when nothing could be further from the truth. "A sad and tragic accident" ... a sad and tragic accident that could have been prevented had an adult in that household had the common sense to lock away any firearms so that small hands couldn't reach them; a sad and tragic accident that could have been prevented had an adult in that household obeyed the laws of the State of Connecticut; a sad and tragic accident that never should have happened but did because of the carelessness of Wyatt's very own parents.

The State Medical Examiner ruled Wyatt's death as "accidental" which comes as no surprise as the boy did get hold of the gun and shoot himself - there's no argument there at all. Where the argument seems to be is as to whether or not Wyatt's parents should be held responsible and accountable for their son's death. Considering that it was an adult that left that gun somewhere that his young hands could find it, pull the trigger, and end his own life then I would have to say that yes, they should be held responsible and accountable and that the law should be upheld. There are those who disagree stating that the parents have suffered enough and have to live with the knowledge that they essentially killed their own child but I disagree; the law is there for a reason. Wyatt's parents ignored it and failed to protect him so now I think it's time for the State of Connecticut to step in and uphold that very law that it put into place to protect children like Wyatt.

In 1990, Connecticut passed a law that makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison for failing to properly secure a gun that is used by a child under 16 to cause death or injury. That seems pretty clear, doesn't it? And it's not that hard of a law to keep either as all you have to do is "properly secure" the gun. Unload it, put a trigger lock on it (available for free at all police departments), store it in a locked box, place it somewhere a child can't reach it ... not leave it lying around loaded under a pillow and then forget about it so that a curious toddler can find it.

The law wasn't passed in order to punish people, it was passed as the result of lobbying by a former Connecticut mother, Susan Kenney, whose 12-year old son died when he was accidentally shot in 1989 by a friend playing with a gun owned by the friend's father. In 1989, a total of five Connecticut children were shot to death by other children playing with loaded guns they had found in their homes or at the homes of friends. Five children dead. It was obvious that parents weren't doing enough to protect their own children so the State of Connecticut stepped in with a law to protect them and made it a Class D felony to keep a loaded firearm on “any premises” where a minor under age 16 could gain access to it without permission unless the gun is kept in a locked box or carried on the person of the adult.

As members of their local Fire Departments and gun enthusiasts, Wyatt's parents must have known this law but obviously they failed to obey the very law that was designed to protect Wyatt and as a result, Wyatt's funeral is being held today. Yes - his death was an accident, yes - his death is tragic, yes - it is horribly sad but an even bigger yes is that it could have been prevented. Easily prevented. And it wasn't.

The State of Connecticut owes it to not only Wyatt but to every other child in the State to enforce the law that was designed to keep Wyatt and other children like him alive. If a child's parent has to spend some time in jail in addition to knowing that they were responsible for his or her child's death then maybe other parents will think twice about not locking up a loaded weapon and leaving it somewhere that a child can find it and harm or kill him or herself or perhaps even another innocent child.

Someone has to be the adult here - someone has to be accountable - someone has to take responsibility. Wyatt wasn't an adult and never will be, Wyatt wasn't and couldn't be accountable, and it wasn't Wyatt's responsibility to know better than to play with a loaded gun that never should have been left someplace that he could get to it in the first place. That was his parents' responsibility and - love him or not - they failed him miserably and that is where the true tragedy lies in all of this.

60 comments:

  1. In a household where children are present, guns should be locked, kept away from reach, and unloaded (meaning no bullets in or near the gun!).

    To me that's basic gun safety.

    It's sad that a child lost his life because of this.

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  2. Linda I couldnt agree more. It was a horrible tragedy caused by people who should have known better. They had a responsibility to protect that child which they failed to do. The trust fund thing smells fishy to me. The child has no ongoing expense. Sounds more like a legal fund.

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  3. I agree with you Linda. The parents are responsible for their son's death.

    They must have known gun safety but chose to ignore the rules.

    I don't get the memorial fund being set up for the baby who is gone.

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  4. I agree with you. The parents are responsible for the death of their son.
    And I cannot believe that they are requesting money for their own memorial fund. That's bold!

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  5. While I have always been a fervent supported of the Second Amendment and the individuals right to keep and bear arms, as well as a subscriber to the belief that an unloaded gun is useless, this story makes me cringe.

    While the right of the people to keep and bear arm shall not be infringed, people who accept that right do so with a great degree of responsibility. A firearm is a machine designed to kill, and as demonstrated here is indiscriminate in that goal. The owners of such things MUST be accountable for their whereabouts, actions, and eventual consequences should they fall int the wrong hands and hurt or kill someone innocent.

    As previously stated, I do support gun ownership, and have several myself, one of which is kept loaded for self defense. however, they are locked in a steel cabinet and the key is located in a separate part of the house. They fact that these people would leave a handgun, loaded or not, in the arms reach to a small child makes me sick. Two year olds are only so tall, and there are a lot of places in a house that they cant reach.

    Both parents should be sentenced according to the provisions of CT General Statue Sec. 53a-56 " Manslaughter in the second degree: Class C felony. (a) A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when: (1) He recklessly causes the death of another person."

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  6. Amen, Linda.

    And that's all I have to say about that.

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  7. Linda, This case should hold the parents responsible. I am with 100%.

    Here in South Jersey, the children can also get to firearms. That is not the only problem. Parents use their children as protection. Placing them between themselves and the person shooting at them. Or drug dealers do not feel that shooting the child is wrong to get revenge on their parents.

    And yes they are also asking the public for finanical help because their child was killed.

    There lies the most tragic part.

    You siad in the beginning of your blog that you were not cold to this subject.

    To tell the truth? I am! As are most of my fellow co-dispatchers.

    How can we not be. If society does not care, how are we. Camden City has 42 homicides as of today. That does not count the rest of the other 36 towns we dispatch for.

    I do not have a google account but if you want to contact me use email. firedispatcher@comcast.net

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  8. I unequivocably agree with everything you have stated so eloquently. Adults must take and be held responsible for their actions particularly when they fail to protect someone so young and vulnerable. It pains me to think that such a young life was tragically ended when it could have been so easily prevented.

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  9. A loaded gun under the pillow?
    Holy shit.

    I grew up with guns in the house, but they were always unloaded and the ammo locked up.
    And certainly NOT under a pillow, no matter if there were kids in the house or not.

    HUGS to you.
    mo

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  10. Thank you, Linda, for saying everything I wanted to say when I read your first post.. and more.

    *HUGS* to you and your coworkers.

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  11. I do agree with you Linda. It was an accident but a preventable one. Here, just recently, a 3 year old shot her baby brother in the head with an air rifle their father had left lying around while he went to answer the phone. You cannot take your eyes off a child for a minute and it is a parent's responsibility to make sure that children do not have access to anything that my do them harm.

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  12. Oh I got so caught up in your post I forgot to say check out my post tomorrow there's an award for you honey. x

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  13. A loaded gun under the pillow? Why? It is a sad tragedy. I have no opinion about whether the parents should be charged under the law or not. I think gun laws should be tightened considerably though.

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  14. This will be no surprise to you Linda, but I agree with you 100%. It seems the laws don't apply to everyone. Not right at all. They should be charged under the statue that they violated. Have a great day honey. Big hug. :)

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  15. Linda 100% agree with everything you said here. parents need to be responsible for their actions and leaving a loaded gun out where a small child could find it, is not responsible, it is ridiculous. What an outrage!

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  16. I don't know why everyone finds this situation so difficult. It is quite simple. The parents had the obligation to insure a safe environment for their children. In not doing so they might as well have pulled the trigger themselves. No one has any business having a gun in the house especially loaded with kids in the house. Yes it is tragic, yes they are suffering but they need to be accountible and the law is the law. It is political. as soon as the fact that they were in town services everyone is suppose to give them a pass. Even worse they should know better.

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  17. Anonymous6:07 PM EDT

    Linda, I agree 200% with you! This situation is one of the reasons that the laws were made for in the first place! Unfortunately in today's "politically (social) -correct" society not enough of us would say this, let alone speak it in public.
    But, enough is enough. Irresponsible parents can still be responsible people in public, but who is gonna save the next youngster?
    The parents should do the maximum, period.
    That's the LAW.

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  18. As you and I discussed, this is incredibly tragic. I can't even imagine the horror of this. A loaded gun under the PILLOW??? And he was a fireman???? I'm sorry, I'm astounded.

    Poor little guy. So heartbreaking.

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  19. You can't put a price on sidearm safety. Tooo many think they a re safe with that gun, but have no clue about safety. Not just in keeping a firearm lying around, but knowing about gun locks, etc, the stupid gun owner can even hurt themselves.

    I'm with nailing the owner here...

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  20. I agree with you 100%.

    Why in the world would anyone keep a loaded gun under a pillow when there's a 2-year-old, or any kid for that matter, in the house? Yes, the law is simple, and it should be enforced. Otherwise it really doesn't mean much and more innocent children will die. If the idea of losing your child isn't enough to scare the parents into being responsible, maybe the fear of going to jail will do it.

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  21. AS I've already commented when you first posted on this, my BIL is a cop with young children in the house. He goes to GREAT lengths to be sure the kids can't get either the guns OR the ammo, which are not together.

    A question: According to th CT law, if the parents go to jail, what happens to the other child/children?

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  22. My daughter and SIL are corrections officers and have several guns. But when the kids were small, they were kept under lock and key.
    I think the fact that the parents were not ignorant but very much aware of the laws in effect is what makes me so angry!
    I'm a card-carrying member of the NRA so I definitely believe in gun ownership but with that comes a huge responsibility! If you choose to put your own family at risk, then you must pay the cost.
    I am truly sorry for everyone involved in this...
    ~~~Blessings~~~

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  23. A-fricken-men Linda! My thoughts exactly. When I read the article the other day I thought the same thing about the memorial fund. "Kinda fishy" was the first thing I said to myself.

    Also, about the legal punishment issue, I think someone needs to be held accountable, despite the "tragic loss." To me, what's the difference between being irresponsible with a handgun, or getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, drunk. You see it on the news all the time, people getting sentenced for killing a friend or relative in the same car while driving intoxicated. To me, whoever placed the loaded, unsecured handgun under the pillow needs to do some jail time, no matter who they are, just like drunk drivers get sentenced for manslaughter for killing friends, relatives, or strangers.

    And them mentioning the fire department thing?!! It has no relavence, makes it no less irresponsible, and quite frankly gets no sympathy from me for such a STUPID act! I don't care if he is a fellow firefighter or not....

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  24. Linda - you sure won't get any argument from me on this subject! My son-in-law hunts, has guns here in the house but they are in a gun cabinet, locked at all times except when he removes what he needs to go hunting. I've seen the heartbreak that ensues with an accidental shooting -a boy (age 14) was shot by the proverbial "unloaded gun" over Easter vacation back in 1958 -he was a year older than me and just the affect this event had on my schoolmates and myself -not to mention his family -was terrible. As one who worked for the NRA many years ago, and who upholds their theory that "Guns don't kill, people do" I know that gun safety of the highest level is something that is at the top of the NRA's list. Whether you have children (of any age) in the home, guns should always be secured, checked to make sure they are unloaded, locked away too so that NO ONE but the person who owns it is able to get to it and use it properly. It's all too easy to become lax about gun safety if the children are grown but also very easy for others who are not knowledgable about gun care, handling, safety, etc., to gain access and accidents can occur to those of any age, but especially children who have no concept of the dangers there.
    Excellent post, Linda and I can't imagine anyone disagreeing with you either!

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  25. I'm sorry I didn't comment on this earlier. It amazes me that the parents are not being held responsible for this. Isn't there a law that states you have to lock your guns up? I would think there would be. Even if there wasn't though-why would he have kept it under the pillow? And why would they leave their child alone to roam the house if they knew it was there?

    It's disgusting. I'm horrified that these people have another child in their "care". I'm sad that this little boy's life was cut short due to some asshole who doesn't deserve to own a pet let alone have children.

    That little boy may have been born to save someone's life. Or to be president. Or to cure cancer. Because his life was taken from him, he can't do those things. I'm outraged.

    I'd sign a petition to get them jailed.

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  26. Scott Adams6:46 PM EDT

    How dare you, you self righteous heartless hate monger. The next time your child skins his or her knee because you weren’t keeping them in the proverbial “bubble”. I hope you realize that the same set of circumstances led to this tragedy. First before you go off on a self righteous banter in a public forum… GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT. You are quoting information you have either read about, heard through rumor, or created in your own head to make your point more believable. The gun was not just left out, And was not under a pillow!!! There are circumstances to it you don’t know (but those would just ruin you story now wouldn’t they?). I know the Vatican has deemed your family all holy and righteous but maybe you need to lower your nose long enough to see reality.

    Second of all you work for one of the dispatch centers involved in this accident, and you feel it’s your right to go spouting off publicly about your opinion. Wow that says a lot for American Ambulances integrity. What gives you the right?! Yes you avoid it in your tirade but you mention your dispatch job, the fact that “a neighboring town needed a paramedic” and you tout you American Ambulance affiliation several times on your site. I will be sure to pass this letter on to any news agency that’s willing to listen so more people can know that when they call 911 that the dispatcher may post there opinion of the incident all over the web.

    As for the mention of the memorial fund, it is just that a MEMORIAL FUND NOT LEGAL FUND. I’m the one who wrote that fax and the incident was sad and tragic. If you were in a car accident with your child and God forbid your child was injured or killed, and the accident was your fault. Wouldn’t it be sad or tragic because you chose to take your children out in the car despite the fact that more children die in car accidents than by firearms?

    Parents make mistakes and their children get hurt…period. Then these parents have to spend the rest of their lives with the knowledge that no matter what they’re at fault. God forbid you ever have to deal with this life destroying guilt, but I suppose your too good for that, now aren’t you?!

    Scott Adams
    EMT, Firefighter, friend, and someone who likes fact more than rumor.

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  27. Anonymous7:47 PM EDT

    To Scott,

    If you only took the time to realize just how many people's lives this young angel touched due to this tragedy in the local EMS community... and yes this WAS a sad tragedy. Maybe then it would be YOU who would "lower your nose" for a moment. You can't begin to imagine the anguish that the responding crews AND the DISPATCHERS are also going through along with the family. We are all praying for the Family... BUT the point of this blog entry is that THIS TRAGEDY WAS AVOIDABLE!!! This is why we have gun laws. So Children like Wyatt will someday never have this happen to them.

    I hope you are the kind of person who if you have a gun or other weapon in your house, you're kids... if you have any you take the common sence approach to protect them from hurting themselves like a trigger lock, keeping it unloaded and storing it in a secure child proof place. Common sense would have saved this child.

    As a fellow EMT, I offer my deepest sympathies for the familie's loss but in defense of ALL personel involved I feel I need to say to you... back off because you do not have a flipping idea just what THEY had to go through and are still going through even now.

    As for your implication as to American Ambulance's "integrity", Being an employee for nearly a decade... I feel it neccesary to tell you that you could'nt handle it here... we take pride in our jobs, our patients and each other... not just ourselves. Get bent!!

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  28. Anonymous8:11 PM EDT

    Hey Scott,

    Since you seem to have all the facts... The state police called... they want to talk to you. Maybe you can get a starring role on CSI.

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  29. Anonymous8:42 PM EDT

    Scott,
    How dare you call yourself an EMT. With the commets you left about the blog a true EMT would not write such a thing. What really matters is that you got called out about writing the fax and now your pissed. Listen what it comes down to is that this is the worst call any EMT could ever do. This is what we call a career breaker. You have to remember that not every one sees this as an accident. The question is why was there a loaded gun in the house in the reach of the children? Scott what the F*** dude. I understand that they are friends of yours but come the f*** on! really?!! A loaded gun? You have to be some what pissed that they had the gun in house for the baby to reach it. If your not mad then you need to step back and take a look at the whole picture from the time the 911 call was placed to the time the baby was flow to hartford. How dare you! You should be ashamed of yourself.

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  30. Well then, I guess I need not respond.

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  31. Wow, this Scott Adams sure has anger management issues. Self righteous heartless hate monger? I didn't read a bit of hate in your post.

    The sign-off says it all. He's a friend so he supports this couple even though they may have violated the law that lead to their child's death.

    So, if he is chastising you for writing this piece why is he also spouting off his opinions? This is something that is left to law enforcement (that would not be him) and the district attorneys office. It's simple. There is either a violation of the law or there isn't. The report goes to the district attorneys office for review and possible prosecution.

    I would not want to work with this Scott Adams. He has some issues, and he is very, very angry. Let me repeat that, HE'S A VERY, VERY ANGRY MAN. He also is a name caller. In other words if you disagree with him he will call you names as he did here.

    His comment says it all... He's the self righteous heartless hate monger. He isn't allowing law enforcement or the district attorneys office do their job as he's already formed an opinion. In other words...He's doing what he is accusing you of doing.

    Have a great day. Please let us know if charges are filed in this case. Thanks and have a great day. :)

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  32. Dear Scot,

    How dare you. Irregardless of where the firearm was placed, the parents/owner of the firearm is ultimately responsible for the events that ended this poor kids life. The question is; does the State Prosecutor feel that it is worth the time, money, aggravation, and courtroom clog-up to press criminal charges on a person who already has to deal with losing a child because of their stupidity. Most likely, no. Should they? Absolutely. And you may find yourself asking "why then?" Well the answer is simpler than you: it's the law. If I felt the need to go out and bang underage chicks, I could. If I got caught, "We love each other!" is not a very good defense just as "it was an accident" will not work for this situation.

    As far as "company integrity", who are you to judge that? Linda has just as much right to exercise her constitutional right of free speech as I or you do.

    This is my exercise in free speech!

    God forbid that someone express their thoughts and some bleeding-heart moron gets offended. You must be a member of the green party, or even worse, PETA.

    I'm sure you have a great idea of what the family is going through. I can tell how in-tune you are just by the babbling writing you make.

    Sincerely

    Batman

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  33. Anonymous3:26 AM EDT

    People, I wouldn't worry about what Scott has said. The only time I'd worry was if you're in the town of Plainfield when he's on duty!! As far as a previous comment left, he definately could NOT handle it at American! Let me start to count the ways.

    1.Be on the air, responding in less than a minute for a priority 1 call, 3 minutes for routine calls.
    Nope! When he's on duty, it's a minimum of 5 minutes for serious emergencies, and you should see it when it's a priority 2 call!! At least 8 minutes, and this is a PAID crew, sitting at the garage!!!

    2.Use the correct vehicle identifier.
    He can hardly remember which of the two town ambulances he's in, nevermind which frequency to operate on...

    3.Maintain a clean and professional appearance. Shirt untucked, stains, with enough food crumbs on his chest to feed a pack of pigeons..

    4.Become available from the ER after an emergency in 15-20 minutes.
    Holy crapola!! Him and his partner go into the ED and they don't free up until 45 minutes to an hour later... Meanwhile their dispatch is toning for a second crew or starting mutual aid (I refer to him and one of his partners as "TAR" and "Molasses")

    There are countless other reasons, but I digress....

    Scott, get off your high horse. Linda wasn't saying it happened on purpose, just that someone should be held responsible for this preventable tragedy. And if I ever become ill in Plainfield, I'll be sure to drive over the town line into the nearest town...

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  34. Scott Adams7:53 PM EDT

    First of all let me make a simple statement. I admit my comment was made out of anger and not my most eloquent writing. I would also like to say that I agree that leaving a loaded gun in a location accessible by a child is an unforgivable action.

    That being said my issue is not that I feel the parents are blameless, my issue is in this post kicking two people that at their lowest. If you don’t think they don’t blame themselves and don’t know what happened is their fault, then you are sadly mistaken. The problem is as they are at the lowest point a parent could be, they have a bunch of people who watch the news or read the paper and draw an opinion based on information even the news reports as speculation, only makes a horrible situation worse.

    I also have to say that another antagonizing factor to my rebuttal is someone emailed your blog to my wife, With the title, “before you set up a memorial fund for them you should see what type of people they are”. Well for the record my wife was best friends with the mother since kindergarten, the mother was my wife’s bridesmaid, and we have babysat for Wyatt several times. We know what type of people they are and know that there lives are ruined and they will spend there lives with a guilt no parent should bare. We setup the fund to help pay for funeral costs not legal costs.

    As for those who attacked me. Those who actually know me know it usually takes an awful lot to upset me, receiving this email the day after the funeral is one of those things, to say I don’t know what it’s like to have a call like this, I welcome you to ask my partner about the first time she saw me, I came crashing though the emergency doors at the hospital as I got pummeled by the aunt of the 4 year old which we were doing CPR on after he fell in their pool while she got a towel. I can also understand the guilt the parents feel because about 4 years ago I was the driver in a car accident that caused the death of my mother . While the cause was a freak medical incident on my part, it does not make the guilt go away. For the last comment… I’ll point out that I have the second fastest turnaround time in the Moosup paid crew and, as for the untucked and stained shirt, your 2 years late, ask around. That and thank you for making my comment seem a little less childish.

    In closing I would like to apologize for the harshness of my comment. I was angry and emotional, but I stand behind the intent of the comment, in that I really think it is unfair to beat people while they are down. If you didn’t send the email to my wife then I admit my anger was misdirected, but unfortunately you were the only available target. Please forgive the overreaction, but to know the details both circumstantial and emotional and then have negative opinions thrown at you, causes one to react blindly. Make no mistake I stand behind the heart of what I wrote but am remorseful of how I conveyed it.

    Scott Adams

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  35. Dear Mr Adams,

    I find it commendable of you to stand side by side with your friends during this time of grief and loss. Friends support each other.

    But friends also tell each other the truth. Sadly, your friends are responsible for the death of their son. That's the truth. A two year old doesn't make a conscious decision to find the key to the gun cabinet, unlock the gun cabinet, remove a gun and ammunition, load the gun, then shoot himself in the eye.

    Your friends are responsible for the death of their son by leaving a loaded weapon where he could find it. A preventable, tragic accident happened. A little boy is dead. And many lives are now impacted.

    It is for the justice system to decide whether these people should be prosecuted. The law is clear.

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  36. Scott,

    First off let me say that I accept your apology and I do know that both you and your wife as well as Wyatt's parents and a lot of other people are hurting. When you said that this is a sad and tragic accident, you weren't kidding and I have never negated that fact. It's a horrible, horrible thing.

    As for this post, I would have written it no matter who the parents were that this happened to even if they were friends of mine because I feel very strongly that it is a parent's responsibility to love and care for their child under all circumstances and, even though your friends were good parents, they made a fatal error and their son paid the price.

    I have no idea who your wife is so I certainly never emailed my blog to her or anyone else and would never do such a thing. I have no idea what type of people the Matteaus are outside of this very public case and I am not judging them - I am simply stating a fact that they were the ones responsible for that gun and it matters not one iota where the gun was as the end result was the same.

    You mentioned yesterday that heaven forbid something happen to one of my kids in a car accident but this is nothing like a car accident. If, however, I were to pile my kids into the car and drive recklessly or drunk or took chances with them in the vehicle and one of them got killed then you can darned well bet that I would take responsibility for that and would expect to pay the penalty. There are motor vehicle laws just like there are gun laws and they are there for a reason - so that tragedies like this can hopefully be avoided.

    Perhaps you feel I had no right to write my post and express my opinion but you need to understand, Scott, that tragedies like this affect many, many people and the loss of a life so young causes ripples of grief, as well as outrage, all over. My opinion is these parents were wrong and they made a tragic, tragic mistake and they need to be responsible for it. Even as their friend, I'm sure you can admit that.

    Again, thank you for your apology and let us all just hope that somehow somewhere Wyatt's tragic death reaches through to other parents that have firearms in the house so that they realize that lives can be changed in a matter of seconds in horrifying ways that can never ever be undone no matter how sorry or remorseful we are.

    Linda

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  37. Anonymous10:28 PM EDT

    Linda and Scott, I have been an EMT longer than most in this business have been alive. I was also in the ER that day this young child was brought in and although I did not personally have a hand in his care, I was witness to the emotions that my friends on the call and colleags in the ER were feeling. Linda I agree with you that they need to be held responsible as this is one of the worst things I have seen in 30 years. No parent should have to deal with the loss of their child; but also no parent should cause the loss of their child either. Scott I feel you need to step back and re-evaluate. It is admirable to stand by your friends. That doesnt happen much these days. But in the same light, dont loss sight of just how many people this tradgedy affected. I hope all involved can live through this. Linda as long as I have known you, you have spoken your mind. This makes who you are. Dont change. Scott, I recommend that if there is a next time that you feel the need to start any funds for anyone, an explaination of what its for may keep the heat off.

    Sincerly Bear469.
    Long time EMT

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  38. Hi Linda....I came to your blog from Akelamalu.

    We had a similar incident here a few motnhs back. # 14 year old boys had some random fight in school. Next day two of the boys shot the third boy on the school premises. The kid who had the gun had seen it lying around at home. A 14 year od is definitely far more mature and would know enough not to use a loaded gun than a 2 year old. Nonetheless the parent who had left the gun lying around in an unlocked closet was to be blamed. The father was taken into custody and later released. He disowned his son who had shot the other child.

    Horrifying story. Yes the parents are definitely to be blamed for leaving the gun lying around where a child could easily reach it. In my family we have a practise that when we know small kids are going to be coming over we just keep all breakables out of reach rather than cordon them off from running around and satisfying their natural curiosity. If we can be that careful when we have kids over, then as parents they should be a 100000 times more careful. They do deserve sympathy for having lost their son but none whatsoever for being careless and ought to be made an example for other parents so that such incidents are not repeated in the future.

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  39. A few years ago a friend/teammate/coworker of my youngest sister was shot to death when she was accidentally shot by her boyfriend and his friend who were using a gun to target shoot. I have it in good faith that the boys had not gotten permission from their parents (the gun owners) to have the guns out-and using them.

    This girl was 16 years old. To this day, her mother is devastated by the death of her daughter. If those guns were not accessible to the two boys, this lovely girl would still be alive today-beginning her freshman year of college.

    I agree that these parents SHOULD-at the very least-be questioned as to why they allowed this situation to occur. Yes, situations like this cannot be predicted ahead of time-but using common sense-especially when children are concerned goes a long way. Just as a parent would not leave an open bottle of bleach within their child's readh, they should not have left a gun...a loaded gun in a place that could be found by a two year old child.

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  40. Anonymous11:52 AM EDT

    MEMORIAL FUND???? ARE YOU KIDDING!!! They want money to move so that they don't have to see where their son shot himself day after day. I wouldn't give these people a dime and I hope the people of JC and Griswold, don't either. The child has no debt, the child has been buried. They are greedy and trying to profit from Wyatts death. Jason and Rebecca are and solely responsible for Wyatts death! Anyone who gives money to these people should be ashamed of themselves!

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  41. Anonymous2:05 PM EDT

    How dare you even insinuate that the parents are trying to profit from the death of their baby. It takes a truly evil person to even be able to think in such a way. I hope that I don't know you, and if I do, I hope that I don't like you, because that would be a serious error in judgement on my part.

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  42. Anonymous4:03 PM EDT

    Sometimes a person who's perceived to be evil is one who would be irresponsible enough (even though they should know better) to leave a weapon unlocked and loaded and then have someone (perhaps a minor child, a depressed individual, or whatever life instance) find, use or handle that same loaded weapon laying around to hurt, maim or injure themselves or another loved-one.

    Some people also believe that a memorial fund (or legal fund) is a moot issue.

    Some people believe that the adults responsible for these acts (occuring everyday all over America) should be imprisoned for life. Both of them, or all involved, where again, a memorial fund would be a moot issue.

    Sometimes people that insinuate that it was just an accident truly are at the end of the day, the guiltiest ones of all.

    People all over America are tired of hearing about babes being killed by loaded weapons in their own (happy) homes.

    I would go further and say the people who are the subject of this blog have made a serious error in judgement......and not accuse those who support the blogger and despise such a reckless act happening in this day and age.

    enough is enough.

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  43. Anonymous10:24 AM EDT

    I am not evil, I am furious... Furious that the parents were so irresponsible. This was not a tragic accident. Why would you leave a gun where a child would have access to it??? The parents want money to move to a new apartment, (which is stated on the flier handed out to local businesses)that is not a memorial fund! I am angry that they haven't been charged for this horrific crime. Both parents should be charged according to the provisions of CT General Statue Sec. 53a-56 " Manslaughter in the second degree: Class C felony. (a) A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when: (1) He recklessly causes the death of another person."
    I completely understand how accidents can happen when you have small children, I have one of my own, but again this wasn't an accident. Rumors surrounding this incident are running rampant and who knows what is true. Is it true that the gun had been taken away from the child earlier that morning? Is it true it was simply loaded and under a pillow on the bed? Who knows!!?? All I know if true memorial fund is setting up a scholarship, or a plaque at a playground, not money for a new apartment. I am sure the parents will grieve for the rest of their lives, but for me that isn't enough.

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  44. Being a mother of three with an avid hunter for a husband I can not imagine leaving a gun unlocked anywhere in our home, much less a loaded one. I am sorry for those parents, but unfortunately they let this little guy down and it's just sad...

    What you said was not heartless, just the cold hard facts and even though it's a hard pill to swallow it's the truth. I give you kudos for standing up and saying what the rest of us were reading and thinking in our heads, Linda.

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  45. Kayla Steeves7:54 PM EDT

    OK seriously you all need to shut up. my cousin loved their kids so much. and wyatt was their first child and would do nothing to hurt them. By the way this whole accident doesnt concern you! you all need to get a life and stay out of ours. keep your comments t your self and let my baby cousin wyatt be in rest. i have no respect for any of you. none of you know him or his parents so seriously shut up. you all disgust me so much to think you all are so cold hearted. it doesnt matter how he died. its that hes dead and everyone needs to leave it all. hes laid to rest and you all need to shut your mouths.

    Wyatt's cousin kayla steeves.

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  46. Anonymous5:42 PM EDT

    Sorry to disagee. Some of us (members of society whom live together as one race on this planet) will not 'shut up' until the laws of the land exterminate this threat to our society (unresponsible gun ownership) and saving lives snuffed out because of irresponsible persons or yes, guardians and parents included! Whatever your spiritual beliefs concerning the dead toddler put aside, even though us as citizens of this area and members of society will not forget this situation...why, when, and how it could have been prevented is paramount!

    If that makes me cold-hearted so be it.

    I'm not the trusted parent or gaurdian that left the gun out.

    This is real life, not a movie.

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  47. Anonymous11:34 AM EDT

    KAYLA - GROW UP!!!! YOUR BABY COUSIN DIED BECAUSE HIS PARENTS ARE IRRESPONSIBLE, DISGUSTING HUMAN BEINGS WHO SHOULDN'T HAVE CUSTODY OF THEIR 4 MONTH OLD AND SHOULD BE ROTTING IN JAIL. BY THE WAY I HAVE A LIFE, KIDS AND A JOB, UNLIKE SOME OF THE DISGUSTING PARASITES THAT LIVE IN JEWETT CITY LIKE THE MATTEAU'S. AND I LIVE IN GRISWOLD, CLOSE TO THEIR HOUSE AND YES I DO KNOW THEM, SO I THINK IT IS QUITE OK FOR ME TO POST HERE! ALTHOUGH I WOULD MUCH RATHER SAY ALL OF THIS TO THEIR FACES IF THEY WOULD DARE TO SHOW THEM.

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  48. Someone's Mother, Daughter, Wife, Aunt, Niece, Cousin.....3:49 AM EDT

    I realize that there are some very angry and opinionated people out there, but for the life of me I don't understand the loathing that is expressed on this blog, and most of it by those that do no know the family. There is nothing anyone could say that will make these parents suffer any more than they already are, their pain and remorse goes beyond the understanding of any of us. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but is the name calling and degradation necessary? If you could put your anger aside for a moment, and imagine that this could be your family member, and don't think that it couldn't be, none of the family members of Jason and Becky ever imagined in their worst nightmares that something like this would happen. These kids are not disgusting, they are not murderers - they are someone's children, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew, niece..... Many of you want to see them in jail, and someone wants them to "rot in jail". What purpose would that serve? I've heard it said that they should be jailed to set an example - don't you think the example has been set? Wouldn't it make more sense for them to help to educate the public? I will end this by saying that I know this message most likely will not make a difference to most of you, but if it makes one person look at this situation with a different and more humane perspective, to really look inside themselves and ask if this is how they would want one of their family members treated, then I must be satisfied with that.

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  49. Anonymous8:00 PM EDT

    No comment.

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  50. Anonymous8:27 PM EDT

    Someone's Daughter, blah blah-

    It was manslaugter...look at the law! No, they are not suffering enough, they should be in jail!!!!!!!!!!!!! So how much money did they make off of people at that fundraiser? Get enough for a new place???????

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  51. Anonymous8:32 PM EDT

    Another thing...You said "none of the family members of Jason and Becky ever imagined in their worst nightmares that something like this would happen."
    REALLY???? I think it is pretty forseeable that this could happen. If you leave a loaded gun out or simply accessible to a baby and it doesn't have a gun lock (as required by law), how could they not imagine it happening. Give me a break.

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  52. Anonymous12:13 PM EDT

    YIPPPPPEEEE HOOOORRRAYYYY THEY WERE ARRESTED THIS MORNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!RIP WYATT

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  53. Anonymous9:15 AM EDT

    TS216
    Linda how can you talk about the parents if you've never met them? I know the family very well, and i can say that Jason and Becky LIVE for their children. They are loving, caring people. This was an accident! A horrible, terrible accident.
    You say that your not being unsympathetic and talk as if you knew little wyatt. You need to step off your high horse and act like a reasonable, sensible adult.

    I think its disgusting how all these rumors have started about the circumstances behind this tragedy, and how the media and you "perfect parents" are bad mouthing them and making the situation worse. They dont need you to tell them they made a mistake, because i can gaurentee that NONE of you are "perfect parents" or even come close to how great of parents jason and becky are.

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  54. Anonymous9:08 PM EDT

    TO THE FRIENDS , FAMILY AND COUNTLESS OTHERS DEFENDING THE MATTEAUS:

    You make me sick! It wasn't an accident!! It was manslaughter at the very least! What is wrong with you! A little boy is dead because the parents didn't keep him safe!

    The fact that you are saying they are great parents is very, very disturbing, I read the warrant, did you? The gun was on a nightstand, loaded, without a lock on it and the mother says to Wyatt, bad boo boos when he reached for it, and didn't move it when she knew it was loaded. If that makes a good parent then god help us all! I am not a great parent by any means, and doubt much of us are, but this was a gun not a pair of scissors, what is wrong with you???

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  55. Anonymous9:13 PM EDT

    To TS: Do you hear youself?
    "reasonable and sensible adult"??? Like the Jason and Rebecca??? They killed their child and should be in jail for the rest of their lives, what is wrong with you people? Lets go over the facts again.. Left a loaded unlocked gun on the nightstand, it full reach of a 2 year old. Told him bad boo boos and left the room. HE WAS TWO YEARS OLD!!!! MOVE THE FRIGGIN GUN YOU IDIOTS. NOW YOU WANT PEOPLE TO GIVE YOU SYMPATHY? I HAVE NOTHING FOR JASON AND BECKY EXCEPT DISGUST AND LOATHING FOR KILLING THEIR BABY.

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  56. respond to mr/mrs "anonymous"
    Yes i do hear myself, and im a man of my word, AND let me reiterate what i said before
    JASON AND BECKY ARE AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN GREAT PARENTS.

    These two are not heartless murders, they are two parents, whom lost their son to an accident. How many of you know what that feels like? How can any of you say they have not been punished at all?

    Its not as if they abused their kids, and just left loaded weapons all over the home with disregard to whom or what came across them. None of you, with the exception of Kayla (i apologize if i spelled your name wrong) have ever seen wyatt outside of the newspaper. Most of you have NEVER met jason or becky which brings up the fact that YOU DO NOT KNOW THESE PEOPLE. How can you truly judge someone without knowing them? You know what they say when you assume.

    Now to you soap box preacher, know-it-alls that say "to the family, friends, and supporters you are disgusting people." lets not assume, cause we all know what that does. Now, what really disgusts me is the way you speak as if you knew wyatt, as if you had played with him and heard him laugh and yell and play. Well...im willing to bet some serious money that you havent, and your little "oh my lordy lord!! ill never get to see little wyatt again!! i will miss him forever!! i cant believe he was taken from me!" can stop NOW. Remembering the memory and life of someone, and mourning their loss is one thing, but acting as if you knew them, and you were best friends and knew them is disgusting.

    And if supporting someone whom i view as a friend is disgusting then I must be disgusting. Im sorry that standing by someones side, no matter what they do, through thick and thin is disgusting, ESPECIALLY when that other person would drag your sorry butt out of a burning building if you were in danger, and never ask for a thanks is disgusting, then you know what? Im PROUD to be disgusting. Why? Because unlike all of you, i don't choose to be friends only when its convenient for me.

    Brotherhood.
    God Bless Jason, Becky and Wyatt.
    From someone whom knows them.

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  57. Anonymous9:25 PM EDT

    Ok, what makes them such great parents? Please enlighten all of us that "don't know them" You say all these things about how great they are but how is leaving a loaded, unlocked gun out in the open for a child to touch being a good parent? THe mother said bad boo boos and left the gun there? How does that make a good parent? It was in the police report, so please don't say I don't know what I am talking about, I read it. It is horrible what happened but it is their fault, not an accident (an accident is something unforseeable) Do Matteaus really think they shouldn't go to jail?

    Since you claim to know them why not just answer these simple questions? What makes them good parents? Why was the gun left out and unlocked, (more than once)? Why did Becky leave it there after saying bad boo boos!!! Why did they need a gun loaded and out in the open in their house,JC isn't exactly HIGH crime area, although the area they lived is the drug area. What did they do with the over $2000 they got from their fundraiser to get a new place? Why don't they do an interview and explain so people aren't talking about them? Did they not know the gun laws in CT? Answer these questions or else shut the hell up. They deserve what they get and I pray I get on the jury.

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  58. Hey I'm from India. We had an incident sometime back where a teenager took his father's gun to school and shot another classmate for bullying him. The teenager's father was arrested for having left his loaded weapon at a place where a teenager could have easy access and the teenager was sent to the remand home.

    As a parent of a two year old child, they ought to have been waaaaaaaay more careful. I am 25 years old and married. Even now my mother tells me to be careful when handling boiling water or crossing a road. Saying boo boo to a child only makes him more curious.

    Btw what exactly did the parents need a fundraiser for? Why do they need other people to help them get a new home? If they wanted a new home why couldn't they just pay it themselves, and if they couldn't afford it then rent another home. Anyway I do hope that they have learnt their mistake now.Oh and not only was the gun left lying around, wasn't it even locked?

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  59. Anonymous9:15 PM EDT

    HORRIBLE PARENTS DUE IN COURT TOMORROW, WISH I COULD BE THERE! JAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL JAILJAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL JAILJAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL JAILJAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL JAILJAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL JAILJAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL JAILJAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL JAILJAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL JAILJAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL JAILJAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL JAILJAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL JAIL :)

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  60. I am not a parent to a child, but I do have two cats. I honestly take better care of them than I feel these 'parents' did. Everyday and before bed I go around my home checking for things that may harm them. How could these people not realize the danger. Obviously they simply did not care and I think they should rot in a jail cell. What about their other child? Hopefully she will not be put back into that home with these people who are not even worthy to be parents. The trust fund is a joke! It's like saying "I negligently killed my child, so give me money." I think there should be a nationwide law like there is in Connecticut so a tragedy like this never has to happen again.

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