CT TV host reflects on death of sons killed in Branford crash

BRANFORD — Robert and Anthony Dudchik were thriving before their tragic deaths last week, their father said on Saturday, overcoming conflict early in life to find their passions.

Anthony was a skilled photographer, finishing his freshman year at college, Tom Dudchik said in an interview. Robert had “found her calling” as a flight attendant at Tweed New Haven Airport, taking on the responsibility of looking after people and securing their rescue if needed.

They, along with Megan Nicole Povilaitis, 17, of East Haven, were found dead after an accident off Hosley Avenue on Thursday morningaccording to Branford police.


Povilaitis’ mother Teresa Gagliardi described her daughter as someone who has impacted the lives of many people. She said her daughter loved playing tennis, had a style all her own and was studying to be a tattoo artist, Gagliardi said on Saturday.

“Megan loved life and lived it her way,” Gagliardi said. “She was so strong. I envy him for that. She sacrificed a large part of her childhood to help me raise her niece, whom she loved so much and for whom she would do anything.

Tom Dudchik said he and his wife were unable to have children on their own. In 2007, the couple adopted Robert, then 7, and Anthony, then 4, from the state Department of Children and Families. In their mid-40s, they looked around, seeing their peers and children go through life’s stages, and sought to create families of their own, he said.

Robert and Anthony had been together in a safe house for about six months prior, Dudchik said. Robert was there for Anthony, his younger brother, at that time, as he has been throughout his life. Upon meeting them, their future parents “knew quickly that they would be special young men.”

“Everyone whose life they touched loved my boys,” said Dudchik, a former state legislator, host of WTNH News 8’s “Capitol Report” and a well-known news aggregation site in the same name.

As a young student, Robert was one to help a classmate after he fell, offering kindness in a moment of pain, his father said. After becoming a flight attendant, he was “deeply proud” of his training.

Robert traveled to Florida to learn how to bail out a plane if necessary, Dudchik said. Thanks to this difficult experience, he automatically had his colleagues’ backs. He was the kind of person to call if you needed something, Dudchik said, or wanted to get in touch with “a wonderful human being.”

Anthony overcame difficulties to get through his first year at school, his father said. Dudchik said he and his brother have improved their lives and are blessings.

“My sons made us better people,” Dudchik said.

Dudchik said he and his wife are leaning on their extensive support networks during this time of grief — his wife has a large family.

He urged people to consider adoption. There are children across the state, some quite young, others on the cusp of adulthood, who need a family to offer love and support, he said — all young people deserve such a foundation in life and the opportunity to “give their gifts” to this world.

“Every child should have a forever home. Every child should be loved,” Dudchik said. “If this tragedy in some way… (forces a person to adopt), then their life would not be wasted for nothing. This is what I would like people to know about their lives: they are good boys.

Branford police say the crash was discovered around 6:35 a.m. Thursday.

Police said the preliminary investigation indicated Povilaitis was driving and “failed to negotiate a bend in the road while driving at excessive speed”. Area residents says NBC Connecticut the road has many potholes and motorists often drive quickly near it.

The police department encourages anyone who may need counseling services to contact their police social worker, Danielle Suraci, at 203-481-4241.

The Branford Police Department and South Central Regional Traffic Squad are investigating the crash. Anyone with information related to this incident can contact Sgt. Christopher Romanello at 203-481-4241.

“We recognize the impact a loss of this magnitude will have on families, friends and our community now and in the future,” the police department said in a statement Thursday. “Members of the Branford Police and Fire Department and the First Councilor’s Office send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those involved.”

A number of officials have offered their support in the wake of Anthony and Robert’s deaths, including Governor Ned Lamont and American senses Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal.

“Our thoughts are with the Dudchik & Povilaitis families,” Blumenthal said in a tweet. “There are no words – we are all with you.”

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