OWEGO (WBNG) — The community came together in Tioga County to honor New York State Department of Transportation employee Matt Howe who passed away last week.
Many joined together at the Owego Methodist Church Monday morning.
Howe was working on Route 17 in Tioga County March 13 when a tractor-trailer hit his DOT vehicle. He died last Monday from his injuries.
“I just think that it’s terrible that this really had to happen because it could have been avoided and I hope this opens up a lot of people’s eyes out there on the highway,” said Teresa Burdess of Owego.
Burdess says she didn’t know Howe, but felt it was important to pay her respects.
“Inside, it’s just heartbreaking for all, the whole town, and the Tioga workers, all of DOT,” added Burdess. “It’s got to be rough. They won’t be seeing their fellow friend. It’s terrible.”
Cindy Merill of Owego knew Howe through her family.
“Matt was just one of the kindest people you’d ever want to know,” she said. “Anytime you saw him he was always running up to you with a welcome, with a big hello and to catch up and see how you were. No matter when you saw him he was just always very friendly.”
Many people like Merill are trying to wrap their minds around this tragedy.
“It doesn’t seem to make sense and it’s a great loss to our community and it’s a great loss to the DOT,” explained Merill.
“An event like this is one, you don’t think is going to happen or you never want to think will happen,” said Tioga County Public Information Officer Doug Barton. “So it certainly was a sad day here in Tioga County.”
Howe’s wife went into his truck to be a part of the dozens of other state and local vehicles to honor him in a procession.
Howe’s family set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical costs. You can donate here.