Family of killed Coventry man appeals to plow driver’s conscience

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — Considering what she saw in a surveillance video released by police Tuesday night, Barbara O’Gara said she was “Shocked. He [the plow driver] was going fast.”

Friends of 19-year-old Matthew O’Gara continued to place symbols of their memories at the site where he was hit and killed by a snow plow truck early Monday morning. A service will be held to remember him Thursday.

“So many tears are going to be shed,” said Devon Potter, who added items to a clump of flowers sticking out of a snow pile. Among them was Matt’s purple and teal Chicago Bulls baseball cap.

“I just want for the person to turn themselves in, or for [police] to find them.” Devon hugged and comforted another mutual friend, Tatum Vincent, as the two talked to a reporter Wednesday.

Tatum Vincent watches as Devon Potter places items in memory of Matthew O'Gara. (Madeleine Wright, WPRI-TV)
Tatum Vincent watches as Devon Potter places items in memory of Matthew O’Gara. (Madeleine Wright, WPRI-TV)

Tatum said she’d seen Matthew about 20 minutes before it happened. “I wish I’d never let him go,” she said.

Police are studying surveillance video recorded at a Central Coventry Fire District facility. They believe a dark vehicle with a bright light attached on top of the cab shooting across the screen is the culprit. The truck appears to be dark-colored and full size, with a silver plow blade attached. The bright light is believed to be after-market and mounted on the roof or windshield.

At the home of O’Gara’s parents, James and Barbara, the feelings are similar: holding tight and trying to keep going forward.

James said he has heard from some people who believe they know who was responsible. He’s been directing them to Coventry police detectives.

As for the driver: “If he knows who he is — or she” — that they hit a person and caused his death — “they would probably be a lot better off if he turned himself in,” James said.

Police said that they received hundreds of tips and had dozens of leads. They are optimistic that they could make an arrest by Wednesday night.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Coventry Police Department at (401) 826-1100.