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

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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 on Hosley Avenue on Thursday morning, according to Branford police.

“Everyone whose life they touched loved my boys,” Dudchik, the host of WTNH News 8’s Capitol Report, said.

In 2007, Dudchik and his wife adopted Robert, then 7, and Anthony, then 4, from the Department of Children and Families.

He and his wife were unable to have children on their own, Dudchik said. 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 in a safe house together for about six months prior, Dudchik said. Robert was there for Anthony, his younger brother, then, as he has been throughout his life; upon meeting them, their future parents “knew quickly that they would be special young men”.

“They were polite, they were nice,” Dudchik said.

As a young student, Robert was one to help a classmate after he fell, offering kindness in a moment of pain. 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; through 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 improved their lives; they were 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 has friends and supporters in journalism across the state, as he hosts Capitol Report.

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 resulting 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 his life would not be wasted for nothing. This is what I would like people to know about their lives: they are good boys.

A person driving in the area called police around 6:35 a.m. Thursday after finding a wrecked car on the roadway, the department said.

According to the police, the preliminary investigation indicates that Povilaitis, who was driving at the time, “failed to negotiate a bend in the road while driving at excessive speed”. Area residents told NBC Connecticut that the road had a number of potholes and motorists often drove quickly past 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 accident. 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 following the deaths of Anthony and Robert on Friday, 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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