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EXCLUSIVE: East Haven football coach remembered by former players and colleagues after being killed in wrong way crash

(Photos by Kelley Fryer Shore Publishing)

EAST HAVEN -- The East Haven community is mourning the loss of a popular football coach. He was killed by a wrong way driver Saturday night on I-95 in Stonington.

Melvin Wells, 55, of Hamden was the head football coach at East Haven High School. He was well-known by many for his contagious positive personality.

“It was just ‘hey, did you hear about Coach Wells?’ And I said … just by the tone in his voice, I knew something was wrong.,” said Nathan Lastomirsky, a former East Haven High School football player.

Lastomirsky got the phone call Saturday night and found out his former coach, Melvin Wells was killed in a wrong way crash on I-95 in Stonington.

State Police said a driver was headed north in the left lane of I-95 South. That driver was Larry Stallings, 32, of Bristol who crashed head on into Wells and both were instantly killed.

Their cars then collided into two other cars, one of which was carrying six people.

Exits 91 and 90 were shut down for a period of time during the investigation.

“It’s hard. It’s hard to process. It’s hard to think that we’re not going to see him again,” said Anthony Verderame, Director of Athletics and Physical Education of East Haven High School.

Wells was a popular man – he was a football coach at many school districts and a friend to everyone. Verderame worked closely with him for 20 years.

“His smile .. his smile. ‘Hey coachie’ was his catch phrase. Every time he saw you, he made you smile and he’d give you a big hug and handshake. He was the nicest, kindest, most caring guy I’ve ever met in my life,” added Verderame.

Wells left a lasting impression on many students and described him as someone they will never forget.

“He would ask about how you’re doing. He would know when something’s wrong. He was very good at that. Not many people are able to recognize when someone is going through some things,” said Trevor Angelo, former EHHS football player.

“He was always in your corner per say. He always had your back no matter what happened in game, in practice,” added Lastomirsky.

“The second that he walks up to you with that smile, that cologne and he shakes your hand – he turn the worst day of your life into the best day of your life,” said Noah Parlato, former EHHS football player.

It was clear Wells had a love for people, football and the surrounding communities. It was a love that will never break and always remembered.

“We love you. We wish we had more time with you and we’ll see you again soon,” added Verderame.

Guidance counselors will be available to students and staff throughout the incoming week.

State Police said the cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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