Students and faculty at Quincy’s Merrymount School have been struggling to cope since one of their own – 8-year-old fourth grader Ethan Coffey – was killed in a motorcycle accident on Saturday afternoon.
The tragic accident has hit home for many in the school system, after the youth and his father, 40-year-old Thomas Coffey, were struck and killed by a dump truck while traveling by motorcycle on Riciutti Drive on Saturday at around 5 p.m.
The father was taken to Quincy Medical Center and the son to Boston Medical Center, yet despite efforts, both were pronounced dead within two hours of the accident.
“It’s unthinkable and unfathomable to parents, and when it happens, its incredibly upsetting,” said Quincy Superintendent Dr. Richard DeCristofaro.
In response to the accident, school administrators contacted staff and parents separately on Sunday, alerting them of what had occurred before they came to school on Monday morning.
Before school began, staff met with teachers and guidance professionals to talk about different ways teachers could begin their day and creative ways to make students feel comfortable.
Support staff was also on hand in some classrooms and for students to chat with throughout the day. According to DeCristofaro, those people will be available Tuesday as well.
“We also met with parents as they dropped off their children, [had] support staff ... two psychologists on hand, and talked about the situation and make sure they understand there is a lot of support in the building,” DeCristofaro said.
In addition to the support at the school level, school administrators are also planning to meet with parents on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Merrymount school to talk with caregivers about their children and the topic of death.
“There will be an information meeting with parents. Just to talk about their kids and death and the questions that they may pose from their kids and how to deal with all this with all ages,” DeCristofaro said. “We gave a lot of information to the staff today and worked with them. They will be invited to that meeting as well, but it will be a positive opportunity to deal with something so tragic that people, parents, teachers, administration - we struggle with.”
Quincy police earlier reported that Thomas had purchased the motorcycle he was driving two days before the accident. He had received a motorcycle permit on Sept. 5.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation.