STAMFORD, Conn. — Pain pierced Brian Murphy’s heart early Saturday morning after two young men he worshiped as brothers died in a tragic Stamford automobile accident.
Lucas Salem and Tommy Molgano, both 20, were not just friends for Murphy. They were trusted companions with mutual interests and goals, young men with big personalities, big dreams and even bigger hearts, he said. They were ready to take on the world, all of them, together.
The vision to extend their friendship into early adulthood was shattered on Hope Street in Stamford. Molgano and Salem died in the wreck when a pickup truck slammed into a tree. A third young man, Sam Cooke, survived the crash, which occurred at about 1 a.m.
"You talk to anyone our age, they were two of the best kids Stamford had to offer." -- Brian Murphy
“After I heard about it, I didn’t even look at the news,’’ Murphy said. “I was on my way to the hospital to see Lucas when my brother called me. He told me Lucas died. I took a minute and just tried to collect myself. We had so much life to live, so many memories to make. It’s devastating.”
GoFundMe pages have been established to honor the memories of both young men. Click here to support a bench to be placed in Stamford Harbor in memory of Lucas Salem. Click here to support a bench to be built at Terry Conners Rink to honor Tommy Molgano.
Murphy and Salem were fishing buddies, and they frequently hung out on weekends. On Saturday night, Murphy turned down a chance to go out with Murphy and Molgano.
“We went fishing whenever we could,’’ Murphy said. “Jackson Solis, Lucas and I would go anywhere. He loved it.”
Murphy recalled a fishing trip with Salem to catch striped bass when he had been frustrated in his attempts to reel one in. “Lucas knew how badly I wanted to catch one,’’ Murphy said. “It was my third or fourth trip. He said there was no way I was going home without one. We came home with four striped bass of 30 pounds or more and 15 sea bass. It was the best fishing trip of my life, and it was all because of Lucas. He’d go fishing for days. If he could fish every day, he’d do it.”
Salem graduated from Trinity Catholic High School, where he also played on the Crusaders’ basketball team. He worked at Marine Max in Norwalk and took classes at Norwalk Community College. He was also a member of the Rhode Island Anglers Association.
“He was the most outgoing kid you’ll ever meet,’’ Murphy said. “And he’d give you the shirt off his back. I remember one time I needed a ride. It was 1 in the morning. He came and picked me up. He was the best friend you could ever ask for. I met him through Jackson, and we became instant friends. He just had this great personality.”
Molgano graduated from Stamford High School, where he played on the Black Knights’ hockey team. He played for a number of years in the Stamford Youth Hockey Association program, and also in the Stamford American Little League. He was a student at Norwalk Community College and worked at an auto parts store in Stamford.
“Tommy was more of a freshwater fisherman,’’ Murphy said. “I never got the chance to go out with him. But that was going to start this summer. We had so much planned. Everybody knew Tommy and Lucas because of their personalities. They were very similar. You knew when they were around. Tommy was one of the funniest guys you’d ever meet.”
Tragic traffic accidents have rocked the Stamford community before. Hope Street has been particularly deadly, where five people have died in accidents since 2010.
Now another accident has devastated the Stamford community, taking the lives of two young men with a world of potential, dreams and joy. It’s hard for any adult to comprehend, but especially so for the young adults who are peers of Salem and Molgano. The pain will dissipate over time, but the memories will not.
“I’ll never forget it,’’ Murphy said. “It’s one of the worst days of my life. They were both like brothers to me. I considered them family. I was happy Sam got out OK. I still don’t want to think about. You talk to anyone our age, they were two of the best kids Stamford had to offer. They’ll all tell you the same thing. There’s just no way to settle it in your mind.”