Family, friends remember Hudson accident victim

By STEPHANIE HOOPER, Telegraph Staff
hoopers@telegraph-nh.com




Staff photo by Kevin Jacobus
Janet McCoy, mother of 21-year-old Brian McCoy, receives a hug from former neighbor and former Oxford Healthcare fellow employee Mary Ann Gendron (facing) as McCoy's daughter Chelsea, 15, sits on her brother's motorcycle at their North Ridge Road home in Hudson on Tuesday. Chelsea was wearing her brother's shirt and pants, and kept his driver's license attached to a bracelet on her wrist. "She doesn't want to let him go," said Janet.

HUDSON - The guy who made them smile is gone, but the many smiles he brought to others in his short life were evident Monday and Tuesday as a steady stream of family and friends began to flow toward the white house on North Ridge Road.

Still in shock from the unexpected loss of their 21-year-old son Brian, Norman and Janet McCoy welcomed the crowd into their home to share and remember their son's life.

Brian McCoy, a former Alvirne High School and New Hampshire Technical Institute graduate, and Rivier College student, died Sunday night at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon after a stroke.

The stroke occurred shortly after a nine-hour surgery at the hospital to repair McCoy's neck, which broke when he hit his head after jumping off a 2-foot retaining wall into a shallow portion of Lake Winnipesaukee in Laconia about 7 p.m. Friday.

Sitting at the family's kitchen table, a weary Norman McCoy straightened a stack of photos featuring his second-born son's ever-smiling face.

Many of the photos contained the evidence of Brian's humorous side, the side that led some friends to begin calling him "Pickles," according to his father.

Brian was about to enter his senior year as a business major at Rivier College when he died, Norman McCoy said.

He had dreams of using his degree to open his own tree-service business or to work in management for Mimco Builders, where he had been working for the past three years, his father said.

His latest passion was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle he got in late spring and had begun to fix up.

Flipping open a photo album of his older son P.J.'s recent wedding photos, McCoy pointed out several pictures of Brian hamming it up with others.

"That was Brian. He always made you smile, and if there wasn't a smile around, he made it happen," Norman McCoy said.

The sentiment was one that was repeated again and again about McCoy by many of his family and friends.

He was the guy who lived for the moment, his friends said.

The athlete and avid hunter who was always doing something.

Mostly, Brian was the guy who kept everyone together and smiling.

"He loved life more than anyone I ever met," said Tommy Duggan, 23, of Hudson, a longtime friend who lived with the McCoy family during his junior and senior year of high school.

Duggan described how after moving to Billerica Mass., after his parents divorced, Brian picked him up every weekend for a year and later orchestrated his move in with the McCoy family so that he could graduate from Alvirne with his friends.

"Brian was the one who went out of his way to make sure I kept in touch with all of my friends," Duggan said.

Because of his people-pleasing ways, the McCoys said they were not surprised to learn that he had been entertaining his friends with his athletic abilities when he injured himself.

The couple talked about the emotional roller coaster they experienced on the days before their son's death.

After being alerted to the accident by friends Friday night, Janet McCoy said she and her husband arrived at Dartmouth-Hitchcock about 8 p.m.

Brian's girlfriend, Tara McCrady, 21, of Hudson had also been alerted and arrived at the hospital a short time later.

Doctors were busily assessing Brian's injuries at the time, but Janet McCoy said her heavily sedated son made eye contact and she knew he realized the family had arrived.

Shortly after their arrival, Janet McCoy said, doctors put her son into traction. She said that was to try to get his second and third vertebrae, which overlapped each other, back into alignment as they were before the serious spinal-cord injury.

That process went throughout the night, and when it failed, doctors made a decision to surgically correct the vertebrae, she said.

"He still had motion and (the doctors) were so happy about that because it doesn't usually happen like that, so they were very hopeful that they would be able to correct this and he might have a good chance," Janet McCoy said.

The family and others who had begun to arrive at the hospital to offer support waited as teams of doctors worked on Brian from 1 p.m to about 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

When Brian came out of surgery looking good and showing good vital signs, Janet McCoy said she and her husband breathed a sigh of relief and decided to get some much-needed sleep.

She said she went to her sister's home, around the corner from the hospital, while her husband stayed at the hospital and slept in the ICU waiting room.

While the family slept, Brian suffered a stroke and slipped away, his parents said.

Norman McCoy said he was awakened about 4 a.m. by a doctor who came into the waiting room.

"I could tell by the look on her face that things weren't right," Norman McCoy said.

The doctor informed McCoy that fluid had begun building up on his son's brain and it was causing pressure and that she needed him to sign some paperwork to drain the fluid off.

"I said just do it now. I signed the paperwork and said just go, go, go," McCoy said.

It was after the procedure that he went into the room to see his son and realized Brian was gone.

"When I looked into his eyes, I could tell that he wasn't there," he said.

The family spent the rest of the day saying goodbye to Brian, he said.

Tara McCrady rode her own emotional roller coaster at the hospital. She said saying goodbye to the man she has loved since she was 5 was the hardest thing she has done.

"We spent so much time together, he was just my best, very best friend in the world," McCrady said through sobs.

She talked about how she would meet Brian at the Hudson recreation center and he would give her rides on his handlebars to the nearby 7-Eleven to get a Slurpee.

She recalled the guy she would always say was "just a friend" because she didn't want to ruin their friendship, and how devastated she was when he got a girlfriend and she realized he was the one.

And the guy who swept her off her feet when he kissed her in his parents' driveway for the first time, in April 2002.

"It was the best kiss I have ever had in my life," McCrady said.

Brian McCoy was pronounced dead Sunday at 11:17 p.m.

On Monday, doctors began to harvest organ and tissues for donation, which was according to his wishes, his father said.

"He was a very giving person, and he has been giving all day today," Norman McCoy said Monday.

"It doesn't stop the pain, but there is something to be said for it."

Stepping out into the back yard of the home, Janet McCoy stopped to speak with Ryan Adamonis, 22, one of her son's friends who had come to grieve with the family.

As the pair consoled one another, McCoy watched as family and friends began to fill the yard with chairs for the many more friends the family expected to arrive.

"Even with all the hubbub and everything, I know when it all quiets down, it is going to be a very quiet house," McCoy said to Adamonis, gulping on her last words.

There was a silence between the two as words were choked away for a moment.

After a minute, a single tear that had began to show under the edge of Adamonis' sunglasses finally streamed down the length of his face.

"He was everybody's best friend," Adamonis said.

Stephanie Hooper can be reached at 594-6413.