As the morning sunlight accentuated the stained glass window depicting Mother Mary cradling the baby Jesus, two beloved youths from Dyker Heights were mourned at Regina Pacis Church before a visibly moved community.
While the white caskets of 18-year-old Anthony Dupont and 20-year-old Carlo Milito were carried in, childhood pals wept openly and embraced each other for comfort.
“The tears coming down their faces speak more than words,” said one of the five priests at the church (1230 65th Street), before administering final rites.
“The only answer for why young boys die is on the cross of Jesus himself as even Jesus went to the cross,” the priest added.
Dupont and Milito, along with 19-year-old Domenico Coluccio, all died together Sunday, Oct. 18, in a tragic accident in an out-of-the-way lake in rural upstate New York.
Friends and family members said that Coluccio, Dupont, Milito and 20-year-old Gianfranco Generoso were fishing together on Mountain Lake in Smallwood, NY, when their boat capsized, sending all of them tumbling into the water.
Of the four, only Generoso, who is Dupont’s cousin, managed to get ashore and survive.
According to these friends and family members, the group was wearing heavy winter clothing, which quickly became waterlogged and weighed them down as they struggled in the water.
By Sunday night, rescue teams recovered Coluccio and Dupont’s bodies from the frigid water. Milito was found the next morning as his mother Rosaria uttered heart-wrenching sobs at the water’s edge.
Investigators believe that the small metal boat capsized when one of the four young men, none of whom were wearing life preservers, stood up.
The young men were using the house of a family friend.
After the short church service, pallbearers brought the two caskets outside on 65th Street, where two open-bed funeral cars were laden with flowers.
Here mourners, dressed in black, gathered in the street and continued to weep openly and embrace as Dupont and Milito were placed in waiting hearses.
Down the street at a corner deli, one of the youths bemoaned the loss of his friends.
“It is a sad day for Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights,” he said.
Maureen Goldfarb, principal of New Utrecht High School, which Dupont and Milito attended, said the pair “was a couple of good kids. Many of the teachers and students remembered them very fondly.”
Dupont graduated from New Utrecht in 2007 and had been taking classes at Kingsborough Community College.
Milito left New Utrecht in 2006, but obtained his GED in January of 2008. Both Dupont and Milito played on the football team.
The school postponed its annual senior photo because so many students attended the funerals.
“Many of the staff members and teachers attended the mass. The community is very shaken up,” Goldfarb said.
In another part of Dyker Heights, friends and family mourned Coluccio at a funeral service at the Church of St. Bernadette (8201 13th Avenue).
Childhood friend Angelo Casale, 21, said that Coluccio, known around the neighborhood as “Menny,” was “the best guy.”
“He was always there to comfort you and make you feel good about yourself. He was the go-to man,” Casale said.
Asked how he and his friends and neighbors were coping with the tragedy, Casale said:
“It has been horrible. No words can describe it.”
Friend Mike Orenstein said Coluccio, a huge New York Jets fan, was a “chill, down-to-earth guy. This is a huge loss to the neighborhood.”
Joanne Vasta, whose son was a friend of Coluccio’s, said Menny was “a very witty boy, but very polite and helpful. It was very refreshing to see a boy like that.”
The youngest of four siblings, Coluccio attended Xaverian High School but withdrew because of health problems of an immunological nature.
He worked at Coluccio and Sons Italian Grocery and Deli (1280 60th Street), the Italian specialty shop his grandfather founded decades ago.
Coluccio’s mother, Enza, volunteered teaching catechism classes at St. Bernadette’s School, which Coluccio attended as a boy.
“This family is a vibrant part of this church and this community,” a St. Bernadette’s administrator said.
Generoso’s family owns the Royal Crown Magnifico Café (6314 14th Avenue) and the Royal Crown Bakery (6512 14th Avenue), known for thick-crusted bread.
“This happened to people who are deeply rooted in this community,” said Goldfarb, the New Utrecht principal.
“They’re hard-working neighborhood people who were very well-respected.”
–Tom Tracy contributed reporting