Friends gather at fatal crash scene to remember 'C. J.'
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Friends have placed photos, candles, a softball, an angel, squirt guns, flowers, balloons and a McDonald's french fries bag at the shrine to remember C.J. Caputo on Hell Hollow Road, Jonas. Someone arranged a stone border around the tree that was hit by Caputo's truck. Caputo died and two of his friends were injured. Votive candles are arranged in the shape of a heart in the spot.
A tree split in half. Now a family is split in grief. A young life split apart. All on a lonely stretch of road, aptly named Hell Hollow.
On a lonely dirt road in a heavily wooded area in Jonas, Conrad "C.J." Joseph Caputo III, 18, of Kunkletown, lost his life last Saturday about 4:50 p.m. when his truck hit a tree head-on.
Now it is a site where family and friends have come to mourn and bring gifts in memory of the son, boyfriend and friend they have lost.
An emotional Will Focht, 16, of Jonas and his girlfriend, Carissa DeSimone, 15, visited the area late Monday afternoon.
As Focht kneeled in front of the roadside shrine, DeSimone patted his back, both feeling bereft at the loss of their friend.
"I've known C.J. a long time. He was a neighbor. We rode the bus together and we got really close this last year. If I wasn't hanging out with him, it wasn't fun. He was always a clown, making jokes. If you were sad, he'd tell one of his stupid ass jokes. You couldn't help but laugh," Focht said.
He said Caputo got a truck as a graduation gift from his father, Conrad Caputo.
A 2014 Pleasant Valley graduate of Monroe Career and Technical Institute, he studied masonry.
He had a job at the McDonald's restaurant in Brodheadsville, but was hoping to get a job as a mason.
He was also looking into pursuing a career in the military, maybe in the fall. He was ready to begin the next chapter in his life when an afternoon of just having fun in the truck he loved with two of his friends, turned into a tragic ending.
Two passengers were injured in the crash. A 16-year-old male, seated in the front, sustained serious injuries, and a 15-year-old male, who was in the bed of the truck, received moderate injuries, according to state police.
The son of Conrad Caputo II and Veronica Caputo, he had an older sister, Lydia and a younger brother, Andrew.
"When I heard about the accident, I couldn't believe it. I had just talked to him earlier that day. I can't deal with this. I lost my best friend. He didn't deserve this," Focht said.