Officials: Shelton High grad Matt Horvath, 18, killed in Milford watercraft accident

Photo of Brian Gioiele
FILE PHOTO: Dozens of people gathered Wednesday, July 28, 2021, to remember Matt Horvath, a 2021 Shelton High grad, who was killed following a personal watercraft accident on Tuesday, officials said.

FILE PHOTO: Dozens of people gathered Wednesday, July 28, 2021, to remember Matt Horvath, a 2021 Shelton High grad, who was killed following a personal watercraft accident on Tuesday, officials said.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — More than 100 people gathered Wednesday to mourn the death of Matt Horvath, a 2021 Shelton High grad who officials said was killed in a personal watercraft incident this week.

Shelton officials said Horvath died following a watercraft accident on Tuesday, but did not provide more information about the incident.

Will Healey, spokesperson for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, confirmed on Thursday that Horvath was the individual who died after a personal watercraft collision on the Long Island Sound in Milford on Tuesday.

Healey said Horvath, an 18-year-old Shelton resident, was rushed to Bridgeport Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Some 150 students, alumni, staff and parents gathered Wednesday at Shelton High’s Finn Stadium to celebrate Horvath’s life.

“Despite it being summer, it was important for us to gather as a school community and spend time simply supporting each other,” said Principal Kathy Riddle, who organized the gathering. “We really wanted to provide our kids a safe space to spend time together, provide counseling and talk about the grief process.”

Riddle called the incident a “tragic event.”

“Matt was well-liked, a hard worker and a member of our soccer team,” she said.

“It was evident from the crowd of students, parents and staff (Wednesday) that he certainly left an impact on us all and will certainly be missed,” Riddle added. “I'm sure it was comforting for the Horvath family to see and feel the outpouring of love and support from our Shelton community.”

Superintendent Ken Saranich called the gathering “a testament of the strength and bonds in the Shelton community.

“Students, staff, graduates and family members all came together to support one another,” he said. “That's what our Shelton community is all about.”

The Board of Education had a moment of silence, at its regular meeting Wednesday evening.

"Last night we received the tragic news of the passing of one of our recently graduating Class of 2021 students, Matt Horvath,” board Chair Kathy Yolish said. “He was someone who loved and was loved by his family members, friends, classmates, teachers and staff.”

A GoFundMe online fundraiser was launched Wednesday and quickly raised nearly $50,000 for Horvath’s family. The fundraiser was created by friend Luke Goncalves.

“What a tragic and unexpected loss,” a message on the page states. “His friends and I are asking for any help during this tragic incident to help the Horvath family with unforeseen expenses.

“We can’t believe you're gone. You were always so full of life, hopes and dreams. You were the funniest and nicest kid I have ever met. I remember meeting you our freshman year and we became inseparable due to our love of soccer, riding quads, dirt bikes and cars.”

Goncalves stated Horvath was a giving person, and he hopes the fundraiser continues his legacy.

“Matt was one of our best friends and you feel terrible about what happened while the boys were out having fun and jet skiing,” Goncalves told Hearst Connecticut Media. “Matt’s dad was a single dad doing a great job raising his son, and he must feel so helpless.

“I had never done GoFundMe but I thought of getting the community and our families together to try to take away some of his financial worries,” Goncalves added.

Saranich said when situations like this occur, the district gathers a crisis team, assesses the situation and reaches out to the family in need before determining how best to proceed.

“All circumstances are based on the event and the needs of the community and family affected,” Saranich said. “Our school counseling staff make themselves available for any assistance with grief counseling for anyone affected by the tragedy.”