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Ryan Foley, 18 -- Car Accident

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SOUTH WINDSOR -- A week after turning 18, South Windsor High School senior Ryan Foley died Tuesday night in a one-car accident on westbound I-84 in Manchester.

Those close to him said Foley would be remembered for his compassion, his love of hockey, and his beloved Mustangs.

"Ryan had the biggest heart," his aunt, Lynne Foley, said Wednesday. "He was always a fun-loving kid who would give the shirt off his back and give it to any one of his friends and family."

Lynne Foley said her nephew loved playing on the South Windsor High School hockey team, was a big Boston Red Sox fan and enjoyed working with his hands, mostly to fix up cars. He had a yellow Ford Mustang GT - one of his two Mustangs - sitting in the family's Highview Road driveway, waiting to be revamped, she said.

Ryan Foley was driving his other Mustang, a 1994 green two-door, when he lost control of his vehicle west of Exits 60/62 shortly after 9 p.m., a police report said. He crashed through the metal guardrail on the right shoulder, then hit an electric utility box and a Department of Transportation video pole. Police said the accident is under investigation.

Tina Gehris, a family friend and neighbor, called Foley "the most fun-loving, wonderful boy I've ever known."

Foley used to help teach Gehris' 7-year-old son how to ice-skate as part of a program at the South Windsor Arena & Sports rink. And Foley and the Gehris family used to hang out in the neighborhood.

"He loved to fix things. Actually he would fix our lawn mower when our lawn mower would break. He was a good mechanic," Gehris said.

Hockey head coach Neil Rodman said Foley always had a smile on his face.

"He was a great kid," Rodman said. "He was always concerned of what people thought of him and he went out of his way to make sure people liked him. He was very caring."

Rodman said Foley's friendship base spanned different groups, including hockey buddies and friends who liked to work on cars.

Students "were emotionally shot and shocked," Rodman said. On Wednesday, the school's counselors talked to students, and friends were allowed to grieve together in groups, Rodman said. Friends also signed memory boards to give to the Foley family and the school is holding an assembly for the senior class today, he said.

Ryan Foley leaves behind his mother, Karin, and his father, James, who is a Mansfield resident state trooper; his sister, Kaitlyn, a South Windsor freshman; and his brother, Kyle, an eighth-grader at East Hartford's Two Rivers Magnet Middle School.

"I can't say enough about him," Rodman said. "There's probably 100 great things running through my head about him now. He's going to be missed."



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